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OCT  24  1927^ 

i>i  vision 


Section  5 

BL  200  .F55  1880  c.2 
Flint,  Robert,  1838-1910 
Anti-theistic  theories 




Being  the  Baird  Lecture  for  1S76. 
Third  Edition.     Crown  octavo,  7s.  Gd. 


Vol.  I.,  containing  the  History  of  that  Philosophy 
IN  France  and  Germany. 

Octavo,  15s. 

William  Blackwood  &  Sons,  Edinljurdi  and  London. 




E\)t  Bairtr  ILecturc  for  1877 



D.D.,    LL.D.,    F.K.S.  T:. 


AUTHOR   OF    'theism,'    '  THE    PHILOSOPHY   OF 







tlTIlc  iBcmoru  of  mu  fHotficr 

I    nEDICAll-    THIS    \OL(JMi: 




The  present  volume  is  closely  connected  with  the 
work  entitled  *  Theism/  which  was  published  in 
1877.  The  two  works  may  be  regarded  as  two 
parts  of  a  system  of  Natural  Theology  which  is 
still  very  far  from  complete. 

The  chief  omission  in  the  present  volume 
relates  to  Agnosticism.  The  explanation  of  the 
omission  is  that  the  author  was  anxious  to  avoid, 
in  a  semi -popular  work,  abstruse  metaphysical 
discussion,  and  has  long  cherished  the  hope  of 
being  able,  at  some  future  time,  to  publish  a 
historical  account  and  critical  examination  of  the 
various  phases  of  Modern  Agnosticism. 

He  has  again  to  thank  Mr  James  A.  Campbell 
of  Stracathro  for  kindly  assisting  him  in  the  work 
of  revision. 

Johnstone  Loogi:,  Craigmillak  Park, 
Edinburgh,  20/A  Miiy  1S79. 


J  I.    ATHEISM,  .... 



VI.    SECULARISM,    .... 
VIII.    PESSIMISM,       .... 












.  290 




.  380 


I.    THE     TERMS     THEISM,     DEISM,     ATHEISM,     AND     ANTI- 
THEISM,       441 








Xin.    MIRABAUD   AND   VON    HOLBACH,       . 
V    XVI.    MATERIALISM    AND   FORCE,       . 































In  the  course  of  lectures  which  I  dehvered  last 
year  I  endeavoured  to  show  that  theism  was 
true  ;  that  there  was  an  overwhelming-  weight  of 
evidence  in  favour  of  the  belief  that  the  heavens 
and  the  earth  and  all  that  they  contain  owe  their 
existence  and  continuance  in  existence  to  the  wis- 
dom and  will  of  a  supreme,  self-existent,  omnipo- 
tent, omniscient,  righteous,  and  benevolent  Being, 
who  is  distinct  from,  and  independent  of,  what  He 
has  created.  In  the  course  which  I  have  under- 
take n  to  deliver  this  year,  I  wish  to  subject  to 
examination  the  theories  which  are  opposed  to 
theism,  and  I  hope  to  be  able  to  prove  that  they 
are    essentially  irrational    and    erroneous.      When 


2  Anti-Theistic  TJieorics. 

engaged  in  the  attempt  to  establish  that  theism 
has  a  broad  and  soHd  foundation  both  in  fact  and 
reason,  I  contented  myself  with  simply  warding 
off  the  attacks  of  those  who  deny  that  it  has  such 
a  foundation.  But  obviously  more  than  this  may 
and  should  be  done.  It  is  our  right  and  our  duty 
to  inquire  also  if  those  who  reject  and  assail  theism 
are  themselves  standing  on  firm  ground,  and  if  the 
systems  which  have  been  raised  in  hostility  to 
theism  are  as  impregnable  as  we  have  found  itself 
to  be.  It  is  this  right  which  I  intend  to  e±ercise ; 
it  is  this  duty  which  I  shall  endeavour  to  perform. 
In  dealing  with  theories  which  have  nothing 
in  common  except  that  they  are  antagonistic  to 
theism,  it  is  necessary  to  have  a  general  term  to 
designate  them.  Anti- theism  appears  to  be  the 
appropriate  word.  It  is,  of  course,  much  more 
comprehensive  in  meaning  than  the  term  atheism. 
It  applies  to  all  systems  which  are  opposed  to 
theism.  It  includes,  therefore,  atheism.  No  sys- 
tem is  so  opposed  to  theism  as  atheism ;  it  is  the 
extreme  form  of  opposition  to  it.  But  short  of 
atheism  there  are  anti  -  theistic  theories.  Poly- 
theism is  not  atheism,  for  it  does  not  deny  that 
there  is  a  Deity;  but  it  is  anti-theistic,  since  it 
denies  that  there  is  only  one.  Pantheism  is  not 
atheism,  for  it  admits  that  there  is  a  God ;  but  it 
is  anti-theism,  for  it  denies  that  God  is  a  Being 
distinct  from  creation  and  possessed  of  such  attri- 

W/iat  Theism  is.  3 

butes  as  wisdom,  and  holiness,  and  love.  Every 
theory  which  refuses  to  ascribe  to  God  an  attribute 
which  is  essential  to  a  worthy  conception  of  His 
character  is  anti  -  theistic.  Only  those  theories 
which,  refuse  to  acknowledge  that  there  is  evidence 
even  for' the  existence  of  a  God  are  atheistic. \, 

An  examination  of  anti-theistic  theories  ought 
evidently  to  begin  with  atheism, — the  complete 
negation  of  theism.  The  term  atheism,  although 
much  less  general  in  signification  than  anti-theism, 
includes  a  multitude  of  systems.  Atheism  has  a 
great  variety  of  forms.  Its  advocates  are  by  no 
means  agreed  among  themselves.  On  the  con- 
trary, if  their  comparatively  small  number  be 
taken  into  account,  they  are  far  more  divided 
into  sects  than  theists.  They  are  at  one  only  in 
their  utter  rejection  of  theism.  I  am  not  aware 
of  any  positive  distinctive  principle  which  atheists 
hold  in  common.  As  soon  as  they  attempt  to 
state  a  doctrine  which  may  fill  the  place  of  theism, 
dissension  breaks  out  among  them  at  all  points. 
It  is  an  obvious  consequence  of  the  fact  that 
atheism  is  thus  indefinite,  divided,  and  varied,  that 
its  chief  phases  must  be  discussed  separately.  It 
cannot  be  treated  fairly  by  being  treated  as  what 
it  is  not, — a  single,  self-consistent  system.  It  is 
really  a  series  or  aggregation  of  discordant  and 
conflicting   systems.      At   the   same    time,   some 

^  See  Appendix  I. 

Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 
general  remarks  regarding  it  may  not  be  without 


Atheism  Is  the  rejection  of  beHef  in  God.      It 
teaches  either  that  there  is  no  God,  or  that  it  is 
impossible  for  man  to  know  that  there  is  a  God,  or 
that  there  is  no  sufficient  reason  for  beheving  that 
there  is  a  God.     In  other  words,  it  either  absolute- 
ly denies  that  there  is  a  Divine  Being,  or  it  denies 
that  the  human  mind    is    capable    of  discovering 
whether   or   not    there    is    a    Divine    Being,  or   it 
simply  maintains  that  no  valid  proof  of  the  ex- 
istence  of  a    Divine   Being   has   been   produced. 
Atheism  in  the  form  of  a  denial  of  the  existence 
of    a    God    has   been    called   dogmatic   atheism ; 
atheism  in  the  form  of  doubt  of  man's  ability  to 
ascertain  whether  there  is  a  God  or  not  has  been 
called  sceptical  atheism  ;  atheism  in  the  form  of 
mere  rejection  of  the   evidence   which   has   been 
presented    for   the   existence   of  a   God   may   be 
called    critical   atheism.     There    is   no   individual 
system  of  atheism,  however,  which  is  exclusively 
dogmatic,    exclusively    sceptical,    or    exclusively 
critical.      These    terras   express    accurately   only 
ideal  distinctions  which  have  never  been  exactly 
realised.      Sceptical  atheism  and  critical  atheism 
are    inseparable.     A    purely    dogmatic     atheism 
would    be    utterly  incredible.      Sceptical   atheism 
and    critical    atheism    have    always    been    much 
more     prevalent     than     dogmatic    atheism.       In 

Existence  of  A  tJieism.  5 

every  form  —  even  in  its  most  modest  form  — 
atheism  pronounces  all  belief  in  God  a  delusion, 
and  all  religion  a  fable.  What  is  called  practical 
atheism  is  not  a  kind  of  thought  or  opinion,  but 
a  mode  of  life.  It  may  coexist  with  a  belief  in 
the  being  of  a  God.  It  is  the  living  as  if  there 
were  no  God,  whether  we  believe  that  there  is  a 
God  or  not. 

The  existence  of  atheism  has  often  been  doubted. 
It  has  been  held  to  be  absolutely  impossible  for 
a  man  entirely  to  throw  off  belief  in  God.  The 
thought  of  a  universe  without  a  creator,  without 
a  presiding  mind  and  sustaining  will,  without  a 
judge  of  right  and  wrong,  has  seemed  to  many  to 
be  so  incredible  that  they  have  refused  to  admit 
that  it  could  be  sincerely  entertained  by  the  human 
mind.  And  it  may  be  conceded  that  there  is  an 
element  of  truth  underlying  this  view.  The  whole 
nature  of  man  presupposes  and  demands  God,  and 
is  an  enigma  and  self-contradiction  if  there  be  no 
God.  The  reason  of  man  can  only  rest  in  the 
Divine  Reason  as  the  first  cause  ;  his  affections 
tend  to  a  supreme  good  which  can  only  be  found 
in  God  ;  his  conscience  contains  a  moral  law  which 
implies  a  moral  lawgiver.  He  can  only  be  con- 
scious of  himself  as  dependent,  finite,  and  imper- 
fect, and  consequently  as  distinguished  from  that 
which  is  absolute,  infinite,  and  perfect.  In  this 
sense  all  theists  will  probably  hold  that  the  soul 

6  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

bears  within  it  a  latent  and  implicit  testimony 
acrainst  atheism  and  on  behalf  of  theism ;  and  the 
opinion  is  one  which  cannot  be  refuted  otherwise 
than  by  what  would  amount  to  a  refutation  of 
theism  itself  But  although  man's  whole  nature 
cries  for  God,  and  can  only  find  its  true  life  in 
God,  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  he  may  so 
contradict  himself,  so  violate  the  most  essential 
principles  of  his  own  nature,  as  to  persuade  him- 
self that  there  is  no  reason  in  the  universe  higher 
than  his  own,  no  good  which  is  not  earthly  and 
perishable,  no  righteous  judge,  no  infinite  and 
eternal  God.  The  number  of  those  who  have 
gone  this  length  may  not  have  been  so  large  as 
it  has  sometimes  been  represented.  Many  have 
certainly  been  called  atheists  unjustly  and  ca- 
lumniously.  Some  may  possibly  have  professed 
themselves  to  be  atheists  who  really  professed  a 
religious  belief  which  they  overlooked.  But  that 
there  have  been  atheists — that  there  are  atheists 
— cannot  reasonably  be  denied.  When  men  teach 
the  most  manifest  and  explicit  atheism  —  when 
they  avow  themselves  to  be  atheists — when  they 
glory  in  the  name — we  must  take  them  at  their 
word.  To  say  that  they  do  not  conscientiously 
believe  what  they  teach  is  an  assertion  which  no 
one  has  a  right  to  make  unless  he  can  conclusive- 
ly prove  it,  and  for  which  there  will  be  found  in 
many   cases   no   proof  whatever.      The    strangest 

Existence  of  A  theism.  y 

and  most  monstrous  beliefs  can  be  conscientiously 
held  by  the  weak  and  erring-  children  of  men.    The 
absurdities  of  superstition  make  easily  credible  the 
sincerity  of  atheism.      If  one   man  can  honestly 
believe  that  there  are  a  thousand  fantastic  gods, 
another   may  honestly  believe   that   there   is   no 
god.     Without  hesitation  or  reservation,  therefore, 
I  grant  that  Feuerbach  fully  meant  what  he  said 
when  he  wrote,  "  There  is  no  God  ;  it  is  clear  as 
the  sun  and  as  evident  as  the  day  that  there  is  no 
God,   and  still   more  that  there    can    be   none ; " 
5j:?-?.^3^X?_.SPU!Ce.n.s  when   he  penned   these  words, 
"  Our  enemy  is  God.     Hatred  of  God  is  the  begin- 
ning of  wisdom.      If  mankind  would  make  true 
progress,  it  must  be  on  the  basis  of  atheism ; "  and 
Mr  Bradlaugh  when  he  told   his   audience,  ''My 
friend    Mr    Holyoake    says,   with    regard   to   the 
words  infidelity  and   atheism,  that   he  objects  to 
them  because  of  the  opprobrium  which  has  gath- 
ered round  them.     The  people  who  fight  for  old 
nationalities  remember  the  words  of  opprobrium 
that  have  been  heaped  on  their  country  and  their 
cause,  but  only  to  fight  to  redeem  cause  and  coun- 
try from  that  opprobrium.     They  do  not  admit  the 
opprobrium  to  be  deserved,  but  they  fight  to  show 
that  the  whole  is  a  lie.     And  I  maintain  the  oppro- 
brium cast  upon  the  word  atheism  is  a  lie.    I  believe 
atheists  as  a  body  to  be  men   deserving  respect, 
and  I  do  not  care  what  kind  of  character  religious 

8  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

men  may  put  round  the  word  atheist.  I  would 
fight  until  men  respect  it."  I  know  no  reason  for 
suspecting  the  sincerity  of  these  men  or  of  these 
statements,  and  therefore  I  do  not  suspect  it. 

There  are  open  and  avowed  atheists  whom  we 
are  bound  to  believe  to  be  what  they  profess  them- 
selves to  be.  There  are  also  some  who  disclaim 
atheism,  yet  who  plainly  teach  it  under  other 
names.  A  large  amount  of  the  speculation  which 
is  called  pantheistic  might  with  equal  propriety  be 
called  atheistic.  Many  materialists  have  repelled 
the  charge  of  atheism,  because  they  held  matter 
to  be  endowed  with  eternal  unchanging  properties 
and  powers  ;  many  positivists  and  secularists  have 
fancied  that  they  could  not  be  properly  called 
atheists  because  they  did  not  undertake  to  prove 
that  there  is  no  God,  but  only  to  show  that  there  is 
no  reason  for  supposing  that  there  is  one  ;  but,  of 
course,  belief  in  the  eternity  of  matter  and  motion 
is  not  belief  in  the  existence  of  God,  and  atheism 
is  not  only  the  belief  that  God's  existence  can  be 
disproved,  but  also  the  belief  that  it  cannot  be 
proved.  We  have  no.  desire  to  attach  to  any  man 
a  name  which  he  dislikes,  but  a  regard  to  truth 
forbids  us  to  concede  that  atheism  only  exists 
where  it  is  avowed. 

Atheists  have  seldom  undertaken  to  do  more 
than  to  refute  the  reasons  adduced  in  favour  of 
belief  in    God.      They  have  rarely  pretended  to 

The  Denial  that  there  is  a  God.  9 

prove  that  there  is  no  God  ;  they  have  maintained 
that  the  existence  of  God  cannot  be  established, 
but  not  that  His  non-existence  can  be  established ; 
they  have  tried  to  justify  their  unbelief,  but  they 
have  not  sought  to  lay  a  foundation  for  disbelief 
And  the  reason  is  obvious.  It  is  proverbially 
difficult  to  prove  a  negative,  and  there  can  be  no 
negative  so  difficult  to  prove  as  that  there  is  no 
God.  Were  a  man  to  be  landed  on  an  unknown 
island,  the  print  of  a  foot,  a  shell,  a  feather,  a 
scratch  on  the  bark  of  a  tree,  the  perforation  or 
indentation  or  upheaval  of  a  little  earth,  would  be 
sufficient  to  show  him  that  some  living  creature 
had  been  there ;  but  he  would  require  to  traverse 
the  whole  island,  and  examine  every  nook  and 
corner,  every  object  and  every  inch  of  space  in 
it,  before  he  was  entitled  to  affirm  that  no  living 
creature  had  been  there.  The  larger  the  territory 
to  be  traversed  and  examined,  the  more  difficult 
would  it  necessarily  be  to  show  that  it  had  not  a 
single  animal  inhabitant.  So  to  show  that  there 
is  a  God  may  be  very  easy,  but  to  prove  that  there 
is  certainly  none  must  be  extremely  difficult,  if  not 
impossible.  There  may  be  as  many  witnesses  to 
God's  existence  as  there  are  creatures  in  the  whole 
compass  of  heaven  and  earth,  but  before  we  can 
be  sure  that  nothing  testifies  to  His  existence,  we 
must  know  all  things.  The  territory  which  has  in 
this  case  to  be  surveyed  and  investigated  is  the 


A  nti-  TJicistic  Theories. 

universe  in  all  its  length  and  breadth ;  it  is  eter- 
nal time  and  boundless  space,  with  all  the  events 
which  have  occurred  in  time,  and  all  the  objects 
which  occupy  space.  Before  a  man  can  be  war- 
ranted to  affirm  that  nowhere  throughout  all  this 
territory  is  there  any  trace  of  God's  existence, 
he  must  have  seen  it  all  and  comprehended  it 
all,  which  would  require  omnipresence  and  om- 
niscience, or,  in  other  words,  would  imply  that  he 
is  himself  God. 

Foster  and  Chalmers  have  so  admirably  pre- 
sented this  argument  in  celebrated  passages  of 
their  writings  that  it  is  unnecessary  to  dwell  upon 
it  further.^  It  has  only  been  attempted  to  be 
refuted  by  an  author  who  has  fallen  into  singular 
mistakes  as  to  its  nature.  Mr  Holyoake  fancies 
that  it  turns  upon  an  arbitrary  use  of  the  words 
"  denial "  and  ''  knowledge."  There  is  not  the 
slightest  foundation  for  such  a  notion.  The  word 
denial,  and  even  all  the  sentences  which  contain 
it,  might  be  deleted  without  the  argument  losing 
a  particle  of  its  force.  The  word  knowledge  is 
employed  in  its  ordinary  and  most  general  signifi- 
cation. The  knowledge  of  the  eyesight  is  no  more 
demanded  of  the  atheist  for  his  negation  than  it 
is  alleged  by  the  theist  for  his  affirmation.  The 
whole  argument  turns  simply  on  the  manifest  and 
indubitable  difference  between  proving  an  affirma- 
^  See  Appendix  II. 

The  Denial  that  there  is  a  God.  1 1 

tive  and  proving  a  negative.  From  that  difference 
it  follows  necessarily  that  the  inference  that  there  is 
a  God  may  be  warranted  by  a  very  limited  know- 
ledge of  nature,  but  that  the  inference  that  there 
is  no  God  can  only  be  warranted  by  a  complete 
knowledge  of  nature.  If  the  author  mentioned  had 
not  thoroughly  misconceived  the  character  of  the 
argument  he  would  never  have  imagined  that  it 
could  be  thus  refuted  by  inversion.  "  The  wonder," 
he  says,  "turns  on  the  great  process  by  which  a  man 
could  grow  to  the  immense  intelligence  which  can 
knozv  that  there  is  a  God.  What  powers,  what  lights 
are  requisite  for  this  attainment !  This  intelligence 
involves  the  very  attributes  of  Divinity,  which  must 
therefore  be  possessed  by  the  theist  while  they  are 
pretended  to  be  sought.  For  unless  this  man  is 
omnipresent,  unless  he  is  at  this  moment  in  every 
place  in  the  universe,  he  cannot  know  but  there 
may  be,  in  some  place,  manifestations  of  nature 
independent  of  Deity,  by  which  even  he  would  be 
overpowered.  If  he  does  not  know  absolutely 
every  agent  in  the  universe,  the  one  that  he  does 
not  know  may  be  the  eternal  source  of  all  life.  If 
he  is  not  himself  the  chief  agent  in  the  universe, 
and  does  not  know  that  God  is  so — that  which  is  so 
may  be  the  eternal  and  independent  element  which 
animates  nature.  If  the  theist  is  not  in  absolute 
possession  of  all  the  propositions  which  constitute 
universal  truth,  the  one  which  he  wants  may  be, 

12  Anti-TJieistic  TJicorics. 

that  nature  is  the  primordial  and  sole  existence. 
If  he  cannot  with  certainty  assign  the  cause  of 
all  that  he  perceives  to  exist,  that  cause  may  be 
nature.  If  he  does  not  know  everything  that  has 
been  done  in  the  immeasurable  ages  that  are  past, 
some  things  may  have  been  done  by  nature.  Thus, 
unless  the  theist  knows  all  things  —  that  is,  pre- 
cludes all  other  independent  existence  by  being 
the  infinite  existence  himself — he  does  not  know 
that  the  nature  whose  supremacy  he  rejects,  does 
not  self-subsist  and  act  on  its  own  eternal  essence." 
Foster's  argument  is  here  travestied,  but  certainly 
not  answered.  Where  is  the  wonder  that  men 
should  know  that  there  is  a  God  1  Such  knowledge 
must  indeed  be  elevated  and  glorious,  but  it  may 
well  be  within  the  reach  of  a  feeble  and  limited 
intelligence.  It  implies  a  certain  likeness  to  God, 
but  none  of  the  distinctive  attributes  of  God.  A 
single  square  foot  of  earth  may  contain  numerous 
proofs  that  there  is  a  God,  but  only  the  entire 
universe  can  furnish  evidence  that  there  is  none. 
He  who  does  not  know  absolutely  every  agent  in 
the  universe  cannot  be  sure  that  the  one  of  which 
he  is  ignorant  may  not  be  the  eternal  source  of  all 
life  and  thought,  while  the  most  familiar  manifesta- 
tions of  life  and  thought  may  reasonably  convince 
him  that  their  eternal  source  cannot  be  dead  and 
thoughtless  matter.  If  the  theist  undertook  to 
prove   the    non-existence   of  nature, — that   there 

The  Denial  that  tJiere  is  a  God.  1 3 

are  no  natural  causes  and  no  effects  produced  by 
them, — he  would  venture  on  the  same  kind  of  task 
as  that  of  the  atheist  who  attempts  to  establish 
that  there  is  no  God,  and  his  audacity  might  then 
be  rebuked  and  his  want  of  wisdom  evinced  by  the 
same  kind  of  reasoning.  In  that  case  refutation 
by  inversion  would  be  legitimate  and  conclusive; 
but  it  is  clearly  inapplicable  in  any  other  case. 
Before  it  can  be  employed  some  one  must  be 
found  to  maintain  that  there  is  no  nature,  which 
is  the  only  proposition  corresponding  to  there  is 
no  God.  But  no  theist  maintains  the  non-exist- 
ence of  nature.  What  he  maintains  is  that  nature 
is  an  effect  whose  cause  is  God. 

If  the  argument  of  Foster  and  Chalmers  be  well 
founded,  atheism,  ought  certainly  not  to  be  a  self- 
confident  system.  It  can  never  be  sure  that  there 
is  no  God,  and  can  never  have  a  right  to  deny  that 
there  is  a  God.  It  must  simply  affirm  that  theism 
has  not  been  proved  true,  and  must  abandon  the 
hope  of  ever  proving  it  to  be  false.  It  must  rest 
in  a  state  of  suspense  and  hesitation  from  which 
there  is  no  probability  of  deliverance,  unless  by 
theism  being  proved  true.  It  must  never  express 
itself  more  strongly  than  by  such  phrases  as 
"there  is  no  knowing  whether  there  be  a  God 
or  not," — "there  is  no  saying," — "it  doth  not  yet 
appear."  Is  this  not  a  very  strange  and  dreary 
condition  for  the  human  mind  to  be  condemned 

14  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

to  abide  in  ?  If  such  be  the  natural  condition  of 
the  human  mind,  must  not  the  constitution  both 
of  the  mind  and  of  the  universe  in  relation  to  the 
mind  be  about  the  worst  conceivable?  But  is  it 
not  much  more  likely  that  atheists  have  deceived 
themselves,  than  that  either  the  mind  or  the  uni- 
verse has  been  so  badly  made  as  atheism  im- 
plies? Is  it  not  much  more  likely  that  atheism 
is  false,  than  that  the  human  mind  has  been  made 
not  for  truth,  but  for  doubt  ? 

To  deny  that  God  can  be  known  is  scarcely  less 
presumptuous  than  to  deny  that  God  is.  For,  it 
will  be  observed,  it  assumes  that  we  are  capable  of 
describing  the  limits  both  of  human  attainment 
and  of  Divine  power.  It  assumes  that  we  are 
not  only  able  to  say  here  is  a  proposition  which 
the  human  mind  can  never  ascertain  to  be  true, 
but  also  here  is  a  proposition  which  cannot  be  re- 
vealed to  be  true  even  by  an  infinite  mind,  suppos- 
ing such  a  mind  to  exist.  It  assumes,  that  is  to 
say,  in  the  first  place,  a  kind  of  knowledge  of  the 
human  mind  such  as  no  man  has  got.  We  can 
discover  the  conditions  and  laws  to  which  reason- 
ing and  research  must  be  conformed  if  the  human 
mind  would  attain  truth  ;  but  we  cannot  ascertain 
the  external  limits  of  intellectual  progress.  To 
lay  down  that  this  or  that  proposition,  which  in- 
volves in  itself  no  contradiction,  can  never  be 
known,  never  be  proved,  is  sheer  dogmatism.    The 

TJlc  Denial  that  God  can  be  knozvn,  ■  1 5 

mind  has  no  right  to  assign  fixed  limits  to  its  own 
advancement  in  knowledge ;  it  has  no  warrant 
even  for  doubting  that  it  may  advance  for  ever, 
its  horizon  constantly  receding,  its  range  of  vision 
growing  always  wider  and  more  distinct.  When 
the  atheist  declares,  therefore,  that  God  cannot  be 
known,  he  dogmatises  presumptuously  as  to  the 
limits  of  human  power ;  he  arrogates  to  him- 
self a  superhuman  knowledge  of  the  possible  at-  / 
tainments  of  the  human  mind.  But  worse  than 
this,  while  denying  that  an  infinite  mind  can  never 
be  known,  he  assumes  that  he  himself  knows  what 
an  infinite  mind  would  be  capable  of  He  tells  us 
in  one  breath  that  we  can  never  know  even  the 
existence  of  an  almighty  Being,  and  in  the  next 
that  he  himself  knows  what  such  a  Being  could 
not  do ;  that  he  knows  that  God  could  not  make 
His  existence  known  to  us.  Under  the  apparent 
humility  of  the  declaration  God  cannot  be  known, 
there  lurks  the  affirmation  that  a  finite  mind  can 
trace  the  limits  of  infinite  power.  Therefore,  I 
say,  to  deny  that  God  can  be  known  is  scarcely 
less  presumptuous  than  to  deny  that  God  is.  It 
implies  in  him  who  makes  the  denial  the  posses- 
sion of  a  Divine  attribute — the  possession  of  infi- 
nite knowledge.  ,J^^ 

The  atheist,  then,  who  would  not  virtually  de- 
clare himself  to  be  a  god,  must  not  venture  to 
deny  either  that  God  is  or  that  God  can  be  known, 

1 5  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

but  must  be  content  merely  to  deny  the  sufficiency 
of  the  evidence  for  God's  existence.     He  must  be 
content  to  be  a  mere  critic;  he  is  bound  to  confess 
that  atheism  is  really  no  theory  or  explanation  of 
the  universe ;  that  no  positive  or  independent  or 
scientific  proof  of  it  need  be  looked  for  ;  and  that 
facts  sufficient  to  overthrow  it  may  be  brought  to 
light  any  instant     Atheists  are,  however,  seldom 
thus  diffident,  and  we  cannot  wonder  that  they  are 
not.     There  are  very  few  minds  which  could  ac- 
quiesce in  a  hopeless  and  inexplicable  hesitancy 
and  suspense.     Atheism  would  make  no  converts 
unless  it  showed  more  confidence  than  it  is  ration- 
ally entitled  to  do. 

Not  unfrequently  it  displays  great  confidence. 
Thus  Von  Holbach,  in  the  '  System    of   Nature,' 
tells  his  readers  that  the  existence  of  God  is  "  not 
a  problem,  but  simply  an  impossibility."     But  for 
this  strong  statement  he  had  only  the  weak  rea- 
son that  "we  cannot  know  God  truly  unless   we 
are  God."     We  have  just  seen  that  to  know  there 
is  no  God,  or  that  God  cannot  be  known,  imphes 
such  knowledge  as  only  a  God  can  have,  but  that 
only  a  very  little  knowledge  may  suffice  reason- 
ably to  convince  us  that  there  is  a  God.     Feuer- 
bach,   as   1    have   already  mentioned,   declares  it 
"clear  as  the  sun  and  as  evident  as  the  day,  not 
only  that  there  is  no  God,  but  that  there  can  be 
none."     We  seek  in  vain,  however,  for  the  demon- 

Atheism  often  Dogmatic.  ly 

stratlon  of  this  startling  assertion.  In  its  place  there 
is  presented  to  us  an  unreasoned  and  superficial 
hypothesis  as  to  the  origin,  nature,  and  history  of 
religion.  Religion,  in  Feuerbach's  opinion,  is  self- 
delusion  in  the  form  of  self-deification.  It  is  his 
own  nature  which  man  projects  out  of  himself,  per- 
sonifies, and  worships.  He  idealises  himself,  be- 
lieves the  ideal  real,  and  adores  the  imaginary 
being  whom  he  has  created.  Religion  is  thus  a 
phase  of  insanity  under  which  the  whole  human  race 
laboured  for  thousands  of  years,  until  the  one  wise 
man  appeared  who  discovered  that  his  fellow-men 
had  been  idiotically  bowing  and  cringing  before 
their  own  shadow.  It  is  this  discovery  which  makes 
it  "clear  as  the  sun  and  evident  as  the  day,  not 
only  that  there  is  no  God,  but  that  there  can  be 
none."  Mainlander  claims,  in  a  recently  pub- 
lished work,  to  have  for  the  first  time  founded 
atheism  on  a  scientific  basis.  But  to  accomplish 
his  task  he  finds  it  necessary  to  represent  Chris- 
tianity as,  like  Budhism,  a  system  of  atheism. 
Maintaining  the  atheism  of  these  two  religions,  he 
infers  that  atheism  is  the  natural  croal  of  human 
development.  The  mass  of  assertions  which  he 
accumulates  around  this  ludicrous  argument  he 
assures  us  is  a  scientific  demonstration.  Czolbe, 
Diihring,  and  some  other  German  atheists,  might 
be  referred  to  as  equally  audacious  in  profession 
and  feeble   in  performance.      A    zealous   English 


1 8  Anti-TJieistic  TJieorics, 

advocate  of  atheism,  Mr  Bradlaugh,  has  frequently 
said,  "  If  God  is  defined  to  mean  an  existence 
other  than  the  existence  of  which  I  am  a  mode, 
then  I  deny  God,  and  affirm  that  it  is  impossible 
God  can  be.  That  is,  I  affirm  one  existence,  and 
deny  that  there  can  be  more  than  one."  But  the 
terms  "  existence  "  and  "  mode "  are  here  em- 
ployed in  so  peculiar  and  equivocal  a  manner  that 
the  declaration  may  have  either  a  theistic,  pan- 
theistic, or  atheistic  meaning.  It  has  no  proper 
or  definite  meaning. 

Atheism  is  essentially  irrational  when  not 
merely  critical.  And  even  when  merely  critical 
it  is  not  very  rational.  This  statement  is  based 
on  the  entire  argumentation  in  the  previous  course 
of  lectures.  The  chief  aim  of  that  course  was  to 
exhibit  the  evidence  for  the  existence  of  God,  and 
the  proof  of  theism  is  necessarily  the  refutation  of 
atheism.  Further,  a  secondary  aim,  kept  in  view 
throughout,  was  directly  to  repel  the  objections 
which  atheism  has  brought  against  the  validity  and 
sufficiency  of  the  fundamental  theistic  proofs ; 
to  show  that  their  weight  is  scarcely  appreciable 
when  fairly  poised  against  the  reasons  in  the  op- 
posite scale,  and  that,  almost  without  exception, 
the  subtlest  and  most  plausible  of  them  indicate 
only  defects  or  difficulties  in  the  metaphysics  of 
religious  speculation,  and  should  have  no  influence 
whatever  on  the  practical  decision,  at  which   the 

Atheism  not  satisfactory  to  the  Intellect.        19 

mind  ought  to  arrive,  as  to  whether  there  is  a  God 
or  not.  If  I  succeeded  in  doing  so  I  must,  of 
course,  have  refuted  the  atheism  which  rests  on 
these  objections,  —  the  atheism  which  is  purely 
critical.  But  whether  I  succeeded  or  not,  it  will 
be  better  now  to  offer  some  general  considerations 
on  atheism  in  its  intellectual,  emotional,  and  moral 
aspects,  than  to  return  on  what  has  been  already 
done,  or  at  least,  on  what  has  been  already  tried 
to  be  done.^ 


How  does  atheism  satisfy  the  intellect  ?  There 
is  around  us  a  world  of  order  and  beauty ;  a  world 
in  which  elements  are  wonderfully  compounded 
and  qualities  wonderfully  associated  —  in  which 
there  is  at  once  an  admirable  regularity  and  an 
admirable  diversity  —  in  which  all  things  work 
together.  What  explanation  does  atheism  give 
of  this  world }  There  is  an  atheism  which  does 
not  pretend  to  give  any  explanation ;  which  tells 
us  even  that  there  is  no  explanation  to  be  given, 
and  that  it  is  foolish  to  ask  for  any.  This  kind 
of  atheism,  to  be  consistent,  ought  to  forbid  all 
investigation  whatever ;  ought  to  lay  an  arrest  on 
thought  and  research  at  the  very  outset  of  their 
course ;  ought  to  explain  nothing ;  ought  not  to 
recognise  that  there  is  any  such  thing  as  law  and 

^  See  Appendix  III. 

20  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories. 

order.  This  kind  of  atheism  is  a  direct  and  com- 
plete violation  of  the  rational  principle  in  man. 
The  human  intellect  is  by  its  very  constitution 
compelled  to  seek  first  causes  for  events,  and  final 
causes  for  order  and  adaptation ;  and  it  has  no 
right  to  stop  short,  as  the  atheist  would  have  it, 
when  it  cannot  advance  farther  without  rising  to 
the  apprehension  of  a  Creative  Reason.  If  it  will 
not  go  as  far  as  its  principles  legitimately  lead,  it 
has  no  right  to  start  at  all;  it  must  deny  itself 
entirely ;  it  must  wholly  renounce  its  own  nature. 
In  other  words,  a  brute  may,  but  a  man  cannot,  be 
a  consistent  atheist  of  this  class.  Pure  empiricism 
is  so  far  beneath  humanity  as  to  be  beyond  its 
reach,  and  can  support  nothing  either  human  or 

There  is  an  atheism  which  teaches  that  the  v/orld 
is  but  the  last  effect  of  an  eternal  succession  of 
causes  and  effects,  and  that  there  has  been  no  first 
cause.  The  mind,  however,  rejects  as  absolutely 
absurd  the  notion  of  an  eternal  series  of  worlds 
which  depends  on  no  originating  principle.  It 
demands  a  first  cause,  a  true  and  self-existent  first 
cause.  A  series  may  be  indefinitely  extensible  ; 
it  cannot  be  infinitely  extended.  Where  there  is 
a  last  term  there  must  have  been  a  first  term.  If 
each  of  a  series  of  effects  be  dependent,  all  the 
effects  of  that  series  must  be  dependent,  and  on 
a  cause  which  precedes  them.     If  the  last  link  of  a 

Atheism  not  satisfactory  to  the  Intellect.        21 

chain  be  supported  by  the  link  above  it,  that  by 
the  third  hnk,  the  third  by  the  fourth,  and  so  on, 
the  entire  chain  cannot  hang  upon  nothing.     An 
endless  adjournment  of  causes  is  a  process  which 
is  meaningless  and  useless,  and  in   which   reason 
can  never  acquiesce.     For  reason  to  abandon  belief 
in  a  self- existent  eternal  cause  for  belief  in   an 
eternal  series,  every  part  of  which  is  the  effect  of 
an  antecedent  cause,  while  the  whole  is  an  effect 
without  a  cause,  is  a  suicidal,  a  self-destructive  act. 
Besides,   the    supposition    of  the   eternity  of  the 
series  of  worlds  obviously  cannot  free  us  from  the 
necessity  of  believing  in  an  eternally  operative  in- 
telligence to  account  for  the  order,  the  mechanical 
and  organic  adjustments,  the  finite  minds,  &c.,  to 
be  found  in  these  worlds.     The  conviction  which  a 
man  feels  when  looking  at  St  Paul's  that  it  must 
have  had  an  architect  of  wonderful  genius,  is  not 
disturbed  or  lessened  by  his  knowledge  that  it  was 
built  two  centuries  ago.     And  in  like  manner,  the 
inference  that  the  world  must  have  had  an  intel- 
ligent cause  ought  to  be  as  legitimate  and  strong 
were  it  eternal,  or  the  last  of  an  eternal  series,  as 
if  it  were  the  only  world  and  had  been  created 
four  thousand  years  or  four  days  ago.     The  infer- 
ence from  order  and  adjustment  to  intelligence  is 
unaffected  by  the  consideration  of  time  ;  it  is  valid 
for  all  time,  and  for  eternity  as  well  as  for  time. 
The  eternity  of  the  series  of  worlds  supposed  can 

22  Ajiti-Theistic  Theories, 

be  no  evidence  that  it  is  uncaused  by  intelligence  ; 
it  can  only  entitle  us  to  affirm  that  if  the  series 
have  a  cause,  the  cause  must  be  eternal,  since  the 
effect  is  eternal.  The  hypothesis  of  an  eternal 
series  of  worlds  is  thus  an  utterly  vain  and  un- 
reasonable device  ;  a  most  futile  attempt  to  evade 
the  obligation  of  belief  in  God. 

There  is  an  atheism  which  teaches  us  that  mat- 
ter and  its  laws  account  for  all  the  harmonies  and 
utilities  of  nature,  for  all  the  faculties  and  aspira- 
tions of  the  human  soul,  and  for  the  progress  of 
history.  But  this  form  of  atheism  also,  popular 
although  it  be,  fails  to  establish  any  of  its  pre- 
tensions. It  neither  accounts  for  matter  and  its 
laws  nor  shows  that  they  do  not  require  to  be 
accounted  for.  It  assumes  the  self  -  existence  of 
matter  and  its  laws,  although  theism  founding  on 
science  undertakes  to  show  that  they  must  have 
had  an  origin.  The  basis  of  this  atheism  is  there- 
fore a  manifest  petitio  principii.  And,  even  with 
its  initial  assumption,  it  does  not  explain  the  har- 
monies of  the  physical  universe,  nor  the  properties 
of  vegetable  and  animal  life,  nor  the  mind  of  man, 
nor  his  moral  principles  and  religious  convictions. 
It  puts  what  is  lowest  and  most  imperfect  first, 
what  is  highest  and  most  perfect  last.  It  regards 
this  contradiction  of  all  rational  thinking  as  a 
grand  achievement. 

There  is  an  atheism,  incredible  as  it  may  sound, 

AtJieisui  not  satisfactory  to  the  Intellect.        23 

which  teaches  that  the  universe,  with  all  its  objects 
and  laws,  is  the  creation  of  the  finite  human  mind. 
What  we  call  outward  things  are,  according  to  this 
hypothesis,  but  mental  states.  All  that  is  is  ego ; 
is  the  self-acting  of  itself  and  limiting  itself,  and  so 
producing  the  noji-ego  or  universe.  Such  is  the 
doctrine  on  which  a  kind  of  atheism  has  been 
founded,  which  has  sometimes  received  the  name 
of  autotheism,  seeing  that  it  would  make  man  his  1 
own  God  and  the  creator  of  the  heavens  and  earth. 
The  celebrated  Fichte  was,  at  a  certain  stage  of 
his  philosophical  career,  accused  of  atheism  in  this 
form.  He  was  supposed  to  teach  a  purely  sub- 
jective idealism  which  would  have  been  irreconcil- 
able with  any  worthier  religious  theory ;  to  main- 
tain that  the  moral  order  of  the  universe  which 
he  identified  with  God  was,  like  the  universe  itself, 
the  creation  of  the  personal  ego.  But  he  indig-  j 
nantly  repelled  the  charge  and  denied  that  he  had  1 
ever  confounded  the  personal  with  the  absolute 
ego,  or  taught  a  purely  subjective  idealism,  or 
overlooked  that  development  is  inexplicable  with- 
out belief  in  an  immutable  Being  ;  and  although 
the  view  generally  given  of  his  philosophy  is  in- 
consistent with  these  exculpatory  statements,  I 
believe  that  they  must  be  accepted.  It  is  admitted  I 
on  all  hands  that,  later  in  life,  this  noble-minded  ) 
man  was  neither  subjective  idealist  nor  autotheist. 
Schopenhauer  and  others  do  not  hesitate  to  tell 

24  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

us  that  within  the  mind,  some  of  them  expressly 
say  within  the  brain,  of  man,  the  immensities  of 
time  and  space  and  all  their  contents  lie  enclosed  ; 
in  Schopenhauer's  own  language,  *'did  not  human 
brains,  objects  scarcely  as  big  as  a  large  fruit, 
sprout  up  incessantly,  like  mushrooms,  the  world 
would  sink  into  nothingness."  This  strange  hypo- 
thesis finds  a  strange  counterpart  in  the  specula- 
tions of  two  of  the  latest  of  German  atheists  as  to 
the  magnitude  of  the  brain.  Schopenhauer  thought 
it  no  bigger  than  it  seemed  to  be,  and  yet  sup- 
posed that  it  contained  the  universe.  Czolbe  and 
Ueberweg  fancy  that  its  apparent  size  is  but  an 
extremely  diminished  picture  of  its  real  size ;  that, 
in  fact,  it  is  colossal,  stretching  beyond  the  iEixed 
stars,  and  covering  the  whole  field  of  vision.  Cer- 
tainly either  the  universe  would  require  to  be 
much  smaller  than  it  is,  or  the  mind  of  man  much 
greater  than  it  is,  before  the  notion  that  the  latter 
is  the  source  or  cause  of  the  former  can  be  for  a 
moment  entertained.  The  atheism  which  makes 
the  finite  mind  the  creator  and  sustainer  of  the 
universe  is  its  own  best  refutation. 

Atheism,  then,  yields  no  satisfaction  to  the 
reason,  but  is  in  all  its  forms  a  violation  of  the 
conditions  of  rational  belief.  Does  it  satisfy  better 
the  demands  of  the  heart  t  The  atheist  is  without 
God  in  the  world,  and  therefore  has  only  the 
world.      Will   the   world   without    God    satisfy   a 

A  tJieisni  not  satisfactory  to  the  Heart.         2  5 

human  heart  ?  No  man  will  venture  to  maintain 
that  material  things  and  outward  advantages — 
meat  and  drink  and  raiment,  wealth,  honours, 
influence — can  satisfy  it.  The  heart  of  man — the 
atheist  himself,  if  he  be  a  person  of  any  refinement 
and  elevation  of  character,  will  grant  at  once — can- 
not be  content  with  merely  material  and  earthly 
good  ;  it  must  have  something  which  responds  to 
higher  faculties  than  the  sensuous  and  the  selfish. 
It  would  be  to  insult  the  atheist  to  suppose  him 
even  to  doubt  this.  What  he  will  say  is  that 
although  without  God  there  remains  to  him  truth, 
beauty,  and  virtue,  and  that  these  things  will 
yield  to  him  such  satisfaction  as  his  nature  admits 
of,  and  one  of  which  he  needs  not  be  ashamed. 
Let  us  see. 

The  truth  in  w^hich  the  atheist  must  seek  the 
satisfaction  of  his  heart  can  only  be,  of  course, 
mere  truth, — truth  apprehended  not  as  expressive 
of  the  thought  and  affection  and  will  of  God,  but 
as  expressive  of  the  properties  and  relations  of 
material  things  and  human  beings.  Suppose,  how- 
ever, that  a  man  knew  not  only  all  that  science 
has  at  present  to  tell,  but  all  that  it  will  ever  be 
able  to  tell  about  the  world  of  matter  and  the 
mind  of  man  and  human  history,  would  it  be 
reasonable  to  expect  this  fully  to  satisfy  him .''  I 
think  not.  Were  all  that  is  to  be  known  about  the 
material   universe   actually   known,  the   man  who 

26  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

knew  it  would  simply  have  within  himself  the  true 
reflection  of  what  was  existing  without  him  ;  on 
his  spirit  which  thinks  there  would  simply  be  a 
correct  picture  of  that  which  does  not  think.  But 
the  soul  which  would  not  be  satisfied  with  the 
very  world  itself,  could  it  have  it,  will  surely  not 
be  satisfied  with  that  pale  reflection  of  it  which 
constitutes  science.  The  soul  which  is  itself  so 
superior  every  way  to  the  world  cannot  have  for 
its  highest  end  merely  to  serve  as  a  mirror  to  it, 
and  to  show  forth  not  the  likeness  and  glory  of 
God,  but  of  what  is  without  life,  without  reason, 
and  without  love.  And  were  all  that  is  to  be 
known  about  the  mind  of  man  actually  known, 
the  soul  which  knew  it  would  only  have  a  know- 
ledge of  itself.  But  could  any  person  except  a 
fool  rest  in  complacent  contemplation  of  himself.'' 
True  self-knowledge  is  very  much  the  reverse  of 
pleasant  or  satisfying.  Shame  and  terror  are 
often  its  most  natural  effects.  Science,  culture, 
truth,  when  separated  from  their  one  eternal 
source  in  the  Infinite  Life,  the  Infinite  Love,  show 
us  nothing  higher  than  our  own  poor  selves  — 
nothing  that  we  can  look  up  to  —  no  object  of 
trust,  of  adoration,  of  affection.  How,  then,  can 
they  satisfy  hearts  the  true  life  of  which  consists 
in  the  exercise  of  faith  and  hope,  reverence  and 
love }  Severed  from  what  will  worthily  develop 
the  higher  emotional  principles  of  human  nature, 

Atheism  not  satisfactory  to  the  Heart.         27 

they  may  lead  the  soul  into  a  land  as  waste  and 
famishing  as  what  only  concerns  the  body,  or  even 
into  a  still  more  howling  and  hungry  wilderness. 
The  spiritual  affections  if  denied  appropriate  sus- 
tenance, if  presented  only  with  purely  intellectual 
truth,  will  either  die  of  inanition  to  the  sore  im- 
poverishment of  the  mind,  or  they  will  live  on  to 
torment  it  with  a  pain  more  grievous  than  that  of 
unappeased  animal  appetite.  For  true  it  is,  as  an 
eloquent  preacher  has  said,  in  words  which  I  can- 
not exactly  recall,  but  which  are  nearly  as  follows  : 
"There  is  on  earth  a  greater  misfortune  than  to 
crave  for  bread  and  not  to  have  it,  and  a  sad- 
ness more  complete  than  that  of  bereavement, 
sickness,  poverty,  even  pushed  to  their  extrem- 
est  limits  ;  there  is  the  bitterness  of  a  soul  which 
has  studied,  and  searched,  and  speculated,  which 
has  pursued  with  eager  and  anxious  heart,  truth 
in  many  directions,  and  yet,  because  it  sought 
it  away  from  the  light  and  life  which  are  in 
God,  has  only  found  in  all  directions  doubt  and 

What  we  cannot  find  in  truth,  however,  may  we 
not  find  in  the  enjoyment  of  the  beautiful  in 
nature  and  art  ?  In  his  last  work — '  The  Old  and 
the  New  Faith ' — this  is  what  Strauss  points  to  as 
a  substitute  for  religion.  The  admiration  of  fair 
scenery,  of  painting,  music,  and  poetry,  may,  it  is 
hoped,  fill  the  void   in  the  heart   caused   by  the 

28  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

absence  of  faith  in  God.  The  picture-gallery,  the 
concert-room,  the  theatre,  may  help  us  to  dispense 
with  the  Church  and  its  services.  Now,  certainly, 
it  is  greatly  to  be  desired  that  the  love  of  the 
beautiful  in  nature  and  art  were  more  widely 
diffused  among  all  classes  of  the  community.  He 
who  contributes  to  its  cultivation  and  extension 
confers  on  his  fellow-men  no  mean  boon,  no  slight 
service.  But  so  far  from  being  able  to  supply  the 
place  of  the  love  of  God,  the  love  of  the  beautiful 
itself  withers  and  corrupts,  becomes  weak  or  be- 
comes foul,  severed  from  that  love.  Art  of  a  high 
and  healthy  order  has  ever  drawn  its  inspiration 
largely  from  religion.  The  grandest  buildings,  the 
most  beautiful  paintings,  the  noblest  music,  the 
greatest  poems,  are  religious.  The  arts  have 
hitherto  spread  and  advanced  in  the  service  of 
religion,  or  at  least  in  connection  with  it.  They 
have  never  flourished  except  in  a  spiritual  atmo- 
sphere which  is  the  breath  of  religious  faith 
Atheism  —  unbelief — has,  alike  in  ancient  and 
in  modern  times,  and  in  all  lands,  been  found 
fatal  to  art.  Before  it  is  entitled  to  point  us  to 
art  as  a  substitute  for  religion,  it  must  be  able  to 
show  us  where  there  is  an  art  which  can  elevate 
and  improve  the  mind  that  has  not  been  directly 
or  indirectly  engendered  by  religion.  It  must 
show  us  that  it  can  create  and  sustain  a  noble  art. 
Atheistical  art,  so  far  as  the  world  has  yet  known 

A  tJieism,  A  rt,  and  Nature.  29 

it,  has  been  art  of  a  diseased  and  degrading  kind. 
It  need  scarcely  be  added  that  art,  whether  good 
or  bad,  can  never  be  more  for  the  majority  of  men 
than  a  source  of  comparatively  rare,  fragmentary, 
and  temporary  enjoyment.  It  is  for  the  leisure 
hour  and  for  the  lighter  moods  and  occasions  of 
life ;  not  for  times  either  of  heavy  toil  or  heavy 
trial.  It  were  well  that  hard-working  men  valued 
art  more  generally  and  highly  than  they  do,  and 
so  enjoyed  such  power  as  it  possesses, — a  real  and 
precious  power  of  its  kind, — to  refresh  those  who 
are  weary,  and  to  soothe  those  who  are  troubled ; 
but  it  were  ill  that  they  abandoned  for  it  religion. 
Art  is  a  beautiful  flower,  but  religion  is  a  strong 
staff.  Art  is  a  sweet  perfume,  but  religion  is 
necessary  sustenance.  Without  aid  from  art  the 
spirit  will  lack  many  a  charm,  but  without  aid 
from  religion  it  will  lack  life  itself. 

It  is  said  that  nature  lies  open  to  the  inspection 
and  contemplation  of  all,  and  presents  the  same 
beauties  and  sublimities  to  the  atheist  as  to  the 
theist  ?  It  must  be  answered  that  the  atheist  and 
the  theist,  so  far  as  they  are  thoughtful  and  self- 
consistent  men,  cannot  but  view  nature  very  dif- 
ferently and  feel  very  differently  towards  it.  To 
the  atheist  nature  may  be  beautiful  and  sublime, 
but  it  must  be,  above  all,  terrible.  Nature  stands 
to  him  in  place  of  Deity,  but  is  the  mere  embodi- 
ment of  force,  the  god  of  the  iron  foot,  without  ear 

30  Anti-TJieistic  Theories, 

for  prayer,  or  heart  for  sympathy,  or  arm  for  help. 
It  is  immense,  it  is  sublime,  it  sparkles  with 
beauties,  but  it  is  senseless,  aimless,  pitiless.  It  is 
an  interminable  succession  of  causes  and  effects, 
with  no  reason  or  love  as  either  their  beginning  or 
end  ;  it  is  an  unlimited  ocean  of  restlessness  and 
change,  the  waves  of  which  heave  and  moan,  under 
the  influence  of  necessity,  in  darkness  for  evermore; 
it  is  an  enormous  mechanism,  driving  and  grinding 
on  of  itself  from  age  to  age,  but  towards  no  goal 
and  for  no  good.  Says  Strauss  himself,  "  In  the 
enormous  machine  of  the  universe,  amid  the  in- 
cessant whirl  and  hiss  of  its  jagged  iron  wheels — 
amid  the  deafening  crash  of  its  ponderous  stamps 
and  hammers — in  the  midst  of  this  terrific  com- 
motion, man,  a  helpless  and  defenceless  creature, 
finds  himself  placed— not  secure  for  a  moment, 
that  on  some  unguarded  motion,  a  wheel  may 
not  seize  and  rend  him,  or  a  hammer  crush  him 
to  powder.  This  sense  of  abandonment  is  at  first 
very  awful."  And  we  may  add,  the  longer  it  is 
realised  it  should  grow  more  and  more  awful,  ever 
deeper,  denser,  and  darker,  until  the  atheist  feels 
that  for  him  to  talk  of  heartily  enjoying  nature 
were  a  cruel  mockery  of  his  own  helplessness.  We 
can  only  be  rationally  free  to  enjoy  nature  when 
we  have  confidence  that  one  hand  of  an  almighty 
Father  is  working  the  mechanism  of  the  universe 
and  another  guiding  His  children  in  the  midst  of 

A  theism  a? id  Morality.  3 1 

it,  so  that  neither  wheel  nor  hammer  shall  injure 
one  hair  of  their  heads. 

When  truth  and  beauty  fail,  will  the  atheist  find 
his  virtue  suffice  ?  Will  morality,  when  exclusive 
of  service  to  God,  when  separated  from  the  thought 
of  God,  satisfy  and  sustain  the  human  heart  ? 
Does  atheism  meet  the  claims  and  supply  the 
wants  of  conscience  ?  This  is  to  ask,  in  other 
words,  if  a  man  will  be  as  strong  for  duty  without 
as  with  belief  in  an  almighty  and  perfect  moral 
Judge  and  Governor  ?  And  the  question  is  surely 
one  which  answers  itself.  The  believer  in  God  has 
every  motive  to  virtue  which  the  unbeliever  has, 
and  he  has  his  belief  in  addition,  which  is  the 
mightiest  motive  of  all.  It  is  often  hard  enough 
even  for  the  believing  man  to  conquer  his  passions, 
to  bear  the  burden  which  Providence  imposes,  and 
to  be  valiant  for  the  right  against  wrong  ;  but  how 
much  harder  must  it  be  for  the  unbeliever  t  His 
evil  desires  are  not  checked  by  the  feeling  that 
Infinite  Justice  beholds  them  and  condemns,  nor 
are  his  strivings  after  God  sustained  by  the  con- 
sciousness that  the  Almighty  and  All-merciful  ap- 
proves and  favours  them.  When  he  sees  false- 
hood widely  triumphant  over  truth,  vice  over 
virtue,  he  has  no  right  to  expect  that  it  will  ever 
be  otherwise.  If  the  highest  wisdom  and  goodness 
in  existence  are  man's  own,  the  mystery  is  not 
that  the  world  is  so  bad  as  it  is,  but   that   it   is 

32  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

not  indescribably  worse.  When  sickness  and  loss 
come  to  the  atheist  they  may  be  patiently  and 
bravely  borne,  but  they  cannot  be  welcomed  as 
they  may  by  one  who  feels  that  they  are  sent 
to  him  by  supreme  wisdom  and  love  to  purify  and 
discipline  his  character,  and  to  work  out  in  him 
and  for  him  an  exceeding  weight  of  glory.  It  is 
not  for  him  to  say — 

*'  Oh  !  there  is  never  sorrow  of  heart 
That  shall  lack  a  timely  end, 
If  but  to  God  we  turn,  and  ask 
Of  Him  to  be  our  friend  !  " 

And  what  can  he  say  in  its  stead  ?  When  death 
enters  his  home  and  strikes  down  some  dear  one, 
he  hears  no  Father's  voice,  sees  no  Father's  hand, 
feels  no  consolation  of  a  comforting  Spirit,  but  sits, 
in  a  darkness  which  is  unrelieved  by  a  single  ray 
of  light,  mourning  over  the  work  of  the  senseless 
enerf^ies  of  nature.  When  death  lays  hold  of  him- 
self, and  he  knows  that  there  is  no  escape,  he  can 
only  yield  himself  up  to  a  dread  uncertainty,  or  to 
the  cold  comfort  of  annihilation,  the  hope  of  being 
dissolved  into  the  elements  of  which  he  was  at  first 
compounded — earth  to  earth,  ashes  to  ashes ;  mind 
and  heart  as  v/ell  as  body  to  ashes — thoughts,  affec- 
tions, virtue  to  ashes  ;  all,  dust  to  dust.  Is  there 
inuch  encouragement  to  virtue  there  } 

The  atheist  may  reply,  I  take  from  life  no  moral 
support  which  it  really  possesses  ;  I  do  not  remove 

Atheism  and  Morality.  33 

God  from  the  world,  but  find  the  world  without 
God,  and  I  cannot  rest  my  confidence  on  what 
seems  to  me  to  be  a  fiction.  He  may  urge,  also, 
that  truth  must  be  accepted,  whether  it  appear  to 
us  to  be  all  that  is  morally  desirable  or  not.  But 
one  who  answers  thus  cannot  have  understood  the 
tenor  of  what  we  have  advanced.  If  the  atheist  be 
right,  of  course  it  is  not  he  who  takes  from  life  any 
hope,  or  strength,  or  charm  which  truly  belongs 
to  it.  That  truth  must  be  accepted,  whether  sweet 
or  bitter,  consoling  or  desolating,  is  what  no  one 
doubts.  But  the  question  is,  Can  truth  and  good- 
ness be  at  variance  with  one  another.?  Can  the 
belief  of  falsehood  be  more  favourable  to  the 
moral  perfection  of  mankind  than  the  belief  of 
truth }  The  most  intrepid  lover  of  truth  may 
well  hesitate  before  he  answers  in  the  affirmative. 
It  is  probably,  indeed,  impossible  to  show  on 
atheistical  principles  why  reason  and  virtue  should 
not  be  in  antagonism — why  falsehood,  if  beHeved, 
should  not  be  more  conducive  in  many  cases  to 
virtue  and  happiness  than  truth ;  but  the  conclu- 
sion is  none  the  less  one  which  must  seem  per- 
fectly monstrous  to  any  mind  which  is  not  griev- 
ously perverted  either  intellectually  or  morally. 
If  it  were  accepted,  mental  life  could  have  no 
unity  or  harmony.  For  who  could  decide  be- 
tween the  competing  and  conflicting  claims  of 
truth  and  virtue,  of  reason  and  morality  ?     Neither 


34  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

the  truth  unfavourable  to  morahty  nor  the  moraHty 
capable  of  being  injured  by  truth  would  deserve, 
or  could  be  expected  to  receive,  the  homage  due 
to  truth  and  morality  when  allied  and  accordant. 

Atheism  has  not  unfrequently  been  advocated 
on  political  grounds.  Religion  has  been  presented 
as  the  support  of  tyranny  and  the  cause  of  strife. 
Its  abolition,  it  has  been  argued,  would  emancipate 
the  mind  and  secure  peace.  This  view  will  always 
be  found  to  rest  on  the  confusion  of  religion  with 
superstition.  But  superstition  is  as  distinct  from 
religion  as  from  atheism.  Superstition  and  athe- 
ism are  both  contraries  to  religion,  and,  as  was 
long  ago  remarked,  are  closely  akin.  They  are 
related  to  religion  as  the  alternating  feverish  heat 
and  shivering  cold  of  bodily  disease  are  related 
to  the  equable  temperature  of  health.  The  one 
gives  rise  to  the  other;  the  one  easily  passes 
into  the  other.  Each  is  to  a  large  extent  charge- 
able, not  only  with  the  evils  which  it  directly  pro- 
duces, but  with  those  which  it  originates  by  way 
of  reaction.  Both  flow  from  ignorance  and  errone- 
ous views  of  Divine  things.  "  The  atheist,"  as  Plu- 
tarch tells  us,  "  thinks  that  there  is  no  God  ;  the 
superstitious  man  would  fain  think  so,  but  believes 
against  his  will,  for  he  fears  to  do  otherwise.  Super- 
stition generates  atheism,  and  afterwards  furnishes 
it  with  an  apology,  which,  although  neither  true  nor 
lovely,  yet  lacks  not  a  specious  pretence."    On  the 

A  tJieisni  and  Politics.  35 

other  hand,  atheism  drives  men  into  superstition. 
Wherever  it  spreads,  religious  credulity  and  ser- 
vility spread  along  with  it,  or  spring  up  rapidly 
after  it.  A  reasonable  religion  is  the  only  effec- 
tive barrier  against  either  atheism  or  superstition. 

It  has  been  disputed  whether  atheism  or  super- 
stition be  politically  the  more  injurious.  Perhaps 
the  problem  is  too  vague  to  be  resolved.  But  cer- 
tainly the  spread  of  atheism  in  a  land  may  well 
be  regarded  with  the  most  serious  alarm.  In  the 
measure  that  a  people  ceases  to  believe  in  _  God_ 
and  an  eternal  world,  it  must  become  debased, 
disorganised,  and  incapable  of  achieving  noble 
deeds.  History  confirms  this  on  many  a  page. 
"  All  epochs,"  wrote  Goethe,  "  in  which  faith, 
under  whatever  form,  has  prevailed,  have  been 
brilliant,  heart-elevating,  and  fruitful,  both  to  con- 
temporaries and  posterity.  All  epochs,  on  the 
contrary,  in  which  unbelief,  under  whatever  form, 
has  maintained  a  sad  supremacy,  even  if  for  the 
moment  they  glitter  with  a  false  splendour,  vanish 
from  the  memory  of  posterity,  because  none  care 
to  torment  themselves  with  the  knowledge  of  that 
which  has  been  barren." 

"The  idea  of  an  intelligent  First  Cause,"  says 
Mazzini,  "once  destroyed,  —  the  existence  of  a 
moral  law,  supreme  over  men,  and  constituting 
an  obligation,  a  duty  imposed  upon  all  men,  is 
destroyed  with  it  ;  so  also  all  possibility  of  a  law 

36  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories, 

of  progress,  or  intelligent  design,  regulating  the 
life  of  humanity.  Both  progress  and  morality 
then  become  mere  transitory  facts,  having  no 
deeper  source  than  the  tendency  or  impulse  of 
individual  organisation  ;  no  other  sanction  than 
the  arbitrary  will  or  varying  interest  of  individ- 
uals, or  —  force.  In  fact,  the  only  imaginable 
sources  of  life  are — God,  chance,  or  the  blind, 
insuperable  force  of  things  ;  and  if  we  deny  the 
first  to  accept  either  of  the  others,  in  the  name 
of  whom,  or  of  what,  can  we  assume  any  right  to 
educate  1  In  the  name  of  whom,  or  of  what,  can 
we  condemn  the  man  who  abandons  the  pursuit 
of  the  general  good  through  egotism }  In  the 
name  of  whom,  or  of  what,  can  you  protest 
against  injustice,  or  assert  your  duty  and  right 
of  contending  against  it  1  Whence  can  you  de- 
duce the  existence  of  an  aim  common  to  all 
men,  and  therefore  giving  you  an  authority  to 
declare  to  them  that  they  are  bound  by  duty  to 
fraternal  association  in  pursuit  of  that  common 
aim } " 

The  prevalence  of  atheism  in  any  land  must 
bring  with  it  national  decay  and  disaster./  Its 
triumph  in  our  land  would  bring  with  it,  I  believe, 
hopeless  national  ruin.  If  the  workmen  of  the 
large  towns  of  this  country  were,  as  a  body,  to 
adopt  the  principles  which  have  at  certain  periods 
swayed  the  minds  of  the  workmen  of  Paris  and 

Pi'evalence  of  A  theism.  ^y 

Lyons, — were  as  a  body  to  adopt  atheism  and  its 
concomitant  beliefs,  —  utter  anarchy  would  be  in- 
evitable. In  such  a  case,  owing  to  the  very  pros- 
perity we  have  reached,  and  the  consequent  ex- 
treme concentration  of  population  within  a  narrow 
circuit,  the  problem  of  government  would  be  a 
hundredfold  more  difficult  in  England  than  it  has 
been  in  France  and  Germany  even  in  their  darkest 
days.  But  no  man  who  examines  the  signs  of  the 
times  can  fail  to  see  much  tending  to  show  that 
atheism  may  possibly  come  to  have  its  day  of 
fatal  supremacy.  Polytheism  there  is  nothing  to 
fear  from.  Pantheism,  except  in  forms  in  which 
it  is  hardly  distinguishable  from  atheism,  there  is 
comparatively  little  to  fear  from.  It  is  improbable 
that  this  country  will  be  afflicted  to  any  great  ex- 
tent with  a  fever  of  idealistic  pantheism  resem- 
bling that  which  Germany  has  passed  through. 
What  chiefly  threatens  us  is  atheism  in  the  forms 
of  agnosticism,  positivism,  secularism,  materialism, 
&c. ;  and  it  does  so  directly  and  seriously.  The 
most  influential  authorities  in  science  and  philo- 
sophy, and  a  host  of  the  most  popular  representa- 
tives of  literature,  are  strenuously  propagating  it. 
Through  the  periodical  press  it  exerts  a  formida- 
ble power.  It  has  in  our  large  centres  of  popula- 
tion missionaries  who,  I  fear,  are  better  qualified 
for  their  work  than  many  of  those  whom  our 
Churches  send  forth  to  advocate  to  the  same  classes 

38  Anti-TJicistic  TJieories. 

the  cause  of  Christianity.  There  is  a  great  deal  in 
current  modes  of  thought  and  feeling,  and  in  the 
whole  constitution  and  character  of  contemporary 
society,  to  favour  its  progress.  Atheism  is  a  foe 
opposition  to  which,  and  to  what  tends  to  produce 
it,  ought  to  draw  together  into  earnest  co-opera- 
tion all  who  believe  in  God  and  love  their  country.^ 

^  See  Appendix  IV. 

MaterialisDi.  39 



In  the  present  clay  there  is  no  kind  of  anti-theism, 
no  kind  of  atheism,  so  prevalent  and  so  formidable 
as  materialism.  Wherever  we  find  just  now  an 
anti-theistic  or  atheistic  system  popular,  we  may 
be  certain  that  it  is  either  a  form  of  materialism  or 
that  it  has  originated  in  materialism,  and  draws 
from  it  its  life  and  support.  It  is  necessary  for 
us,  therefore,  to  turn  our  attention  to  materialism, 
the  chief  and  central  source  of  contemporary  anti- 
theistic  speculations.  I  shall  treat  of  it  at  some 
length,  owing  to  its  importance,  but  I  shall  treat 
of  it  only  in  so  far  as  it  is  anti-theistic.  It  has 
other  aspects  and  relations,  but  these  I  do  not  re- 
quire to  consider.  With  much  that  has  sometimes 
been  included  in  materialism,  I  have  fortunately 
here  no  concern. 

Materialists    have    not    unfrequently    sought   to 

40  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

represent  the  history  of  physical  science  and 
speculation  as  inseparable  from,  if  not  identical 
with,  the  history  of  materialism.  Their  right  to 
do  so  is,  of  course,  denied  by  all  their  opponents. 
Spiritualists  of  every  class  maintain  that  nothing 
accomplished  by  physical  science  has  carried  us 
by  a  single  step  nearer  materialism.  All  consist- 
ent theists  believe  that  the  progress  of  physical 
science  has  been  a  continuous  illustration  of  the 
power,  wisdom,  and  goodness  of  God.  Material- 
ism cannot  be  allowed,  therefore,  quietly  and  illo- 
gically  to  take  for  granted  that  the  interests  of 
physical  science  are  specially  bound  up  with  its 
own.  At  the  same  time  it  may  be  acknowledged, 
and  I  desire  to  acknowledge  it  cordially,  that 
materialism  and  materialistic  theories  have  largely 
\  contributed  to  the  advancement  of  physical  science, 
and  have  indirectly  profited  even  mental  science. 
It  would  be  altogether  unjust  to  regard  them  as 
merely  hurtful  or  merely  useless.  They  have 
suggested  and  stimulated  the  most  varied  re- 
searches. It  is  no  accidental  circumstance  that 
they  have  abounded  during  every  age  in  which 
physical  science  has  been  prosecuted  with  vigour 
and  success.  Wherever  physical  science  is  gener- 
ally enterprising  it  must  also  be  often  audacious. 
If  it  were  never  unreasonably  hopeful  and  ambi- 
tious, its  achievements  would  be  comparatively 
few   and    mean.       The    material    universe   can   be 

Materialism  and  Physical  Science.  41 

under-estimated  as  well  as  over-estimated,  and  the 
exaggerations  even  of  materialism  are  needful  to 
secure  its  being  estimated  aright.  It  was  Cole- 
ridge, I  think,  who,  when  asked  what  could  be  the 
use  of  the  stars  if  not  inhabited,  replied  that  it 
might  be  to  show  that  dirt  was  cheap.  The  theo- 
logians, the  metaphysicians,  the  moral  philoso- 
phers, and  large  classes  of  religionists  have  always 
been  prone  to  regard  matter  as  merely  "dirt," 
and  to  forget  that  it  is  the  wonderful  work  and 
glorious  manifestation  of  God  ;  and  so  long  as  this 
error  is  committed,  the  opposite  error  may  serve 
a  providential  purpose.  Ignorance  of  physical 
nature,  or  injustice  to  it,  is  fatal  even  to  philo- 
sophy and  theology.  There  was  very  little  ma- 
terialism during  the  middle  ages  ;  but  at  that 
time,  also,  physical  science  languished  and  died, 
and  the  philosophical  theology  which  prevailed 
dogmatised,  in  consequence,  so  confidently  and 
foolishly  on  the  origin  and  nature  of  the  universe 
and  its  relations  to  the  Creator,  that  the  grandest 
truths  were  discredited  by  being  associated  with 
the  most  ridiculous  blunders. 

There  is  a  prevalent  notion  that  materialism  is 
at  least  a  very  definite  theory  which,  whether  true 
or  false,  cannot  be  mistaken  for  any  other.  In 
reality  it  is  a  general  term  which  has  many  and 
discordant  applications,  and  which  comprehends  a 
crowd  of  heterogeneous  theories.      There  are  sys- 

42  Anti-Thcistic  Theoj'ies. 

terns  which  may  with  equal  right  be  designated 
materialistic  or  pantheistic,  and  even  materialistic 
or  idealistic.  The  only  kind  of  system  of  which 
history  supplies  no  record  is  one  which  would 
answer  truly  to  the  name  of  materialism.  The 
name  would  naturally  denote  a  theory  which  ex- 
plains the  universe  by  what  is  known  as  matter, 
or  by  matter  as  known  through  ordinary  observa- 
tion or  scientific  investigation.  There  neither  is, 
however,  nor  ever  has  been,  any  such  theory.  It 
is  a  universal  characteristic  of  materialism  that  it 
supposes  matter  to  be  more  than  it  is  known  to  be; 
that  it  imaginatively  exalts  and  glorifies  matter 
beyond  what  sense  or  science  warrants.  It  always 
attributes  to  matter  eternity  and  self-existence  ; 
sometimes  it  supposes  it  to  be  likewise  essentially 
active  ;  sometimes  it  endows  it  with  life,  with  sen- 
sation, with  volition,  with  intelligence.  Systems 
which  agree  in  verbally  representing  matter  as  the 
foundation  and  explanation  of  the  universe,  differ 
enormously  as  to  what  matter  is,  but  they  all, 
without  exception,  ascribe  to  matter  properties  of 
which  experience  teaches  us  nothing, 
f^  It  is  perhaps  impossible  to  fix  precisely  where 
the  history  of  materialism  begins.  To  say  that  it 
is  "as  old  but  not  older  than  philosophy,"  is  to 
say  nothing,  unless  you  say  how  old  philosophy  is. 
But  philosophy  existed  in  union  with  religion  long 
before  it  existed  in  a  state  of  independence,  and 

0'rigi?i  of  Materialism.  43 

for  anything  we  know  to  the  contrary,  may  be  as 
old  as  human  reason  itself.  Notwithstanding  the 
prevalence  of  the  contrary  opinion,  there  is  evi- 
dence that  even  the  lowest  forms  of  religion  have 
originated  in  a  speculative  impulse.  They  are  not 
mere  embodiments  of  the  feelings  of  fear,  or  love, 
or  dependence,  but  consist  in  great  part  of  rude 
speculations,  strange  fancies,  as  to  the  making  and 
the  meaning  of  nature  and  of  man.  The  ruder 
tribes  of  men  seem  unable  to  conceive  either  of 
mere  matter  or  mere  spirit ;  they  spiritualise  mat- 
ter and  materialise  spirit ;  souls  and  gods  are  sup- 
posed by  them  to  be  material  beings,  and  material 
things  to  have  souls  and  divine  powers  ;  they  can- 
not think  of  matter  and  spirit  as  separate  exist- 
ences. Fetichism,  animism,  animal  -  worship,  na- 
ture-worship, have  all  their  root  in  this  mental 
incapacity.  All  these  forms  of  religion  may  with 
almost  as  much  propriety  be  called  materialistic 
as  the  professedly  materialistic  theories  of  the 
recent  speculators  who,  in  the  name  of  science, 
ascribe  life  and  sense  and  other  potencies  even 
to  the  ultimate  elements  of  matter.  The  feeble 
power  of  abstraction  which  characterises  uncul- 
tured man  has  always  made  him,  to  a  consider- 
able extent,  a  materialist.  He  has  been  unable 
to  think  of  mind  and  matter  apart ;  of  a  body 
without  spirit  or  spirit  without  body  ;  of  na- 
ture without  God  or  God  without  nature.      Man 

44  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theoi'ies. 

has  been  unable  until  comparatively  late  times 
either  to  raise  or  answer  the  question,  Was  mind 
before  matter  or  matter  before  mind  ?  The  Jews 
seem  to  have  been  the  first  nation  raised  above 
such  materialism,  and  raised  also,  in  consequence, 
above  pantheism  to  a  true  theism.  It  is  the  Bible 
which  has  impressed  on  the  human  mind  the  great 
thought  of  the  creation  of  matter  by  the  will,  the 
word  of  God. 

The  rude  religious  materialism  now  referred  to 
is,  of  course,  a  very  different  thing  from  a  specula- 
tive anti-religious  materialism,  but  it  explains  why, 
as  soon  as  speculation  appeared  and  assumed  an 
anti- religious  attitude,  it  should  have  presented 
itself  in  the  form  of  materialism.  In  spite  of  all 
that  has  been  said  against  speculation,  however,  it 
is  not  the  rule,  it  is  only  the  exception,  for  it  to  be 
anti-religious  ;  it  is  not  the  rule,  but  only  the  excep- 
tion, for  it  to  lead  to  materialism.  The  tendency  of 
speculation,  of  refined  and  disciplined  reflection  of 
thought  which  seeks  really  to  comprehend  what  it 
has  before  it,  is,  if  history  may  be  credited,  to  get 
beyond  matter,  not  to  rest  in  it.  The  history  of 
materialism  impartially  written  is  not  a  very  bril- 
liant one.  Comparatively  few  of  the  world's  great- 
est thinkers  have  been  adherents  of  this  system. 
Its  advocates  have  often  done  it  little  credit.^ 

In  China,  more  than  three  hundred  years  before 

^  See  Appendix  V. 

Chinese  Materialism,  45 

the  Christian  era,  an  avowedly  atheistical  materi- 
alism was  widely  prevalent.     It  was  the  chief  task 
in  life  of  one  of  the  most  celebrated  Chinese  philo- 
sophers, Meng-tseu,  better  known  in  the  West  as 
Mencius,  to  combat  this  doctrine,  and  the  views 
of  man's  duty  and  destiny  which  were  based  on 
it.     He  believed  it  to  have  caused  a  vast  amount 
of  harm  to  his  country,  and  that  no  society  could 
long  exist  which  entertained  it.     A  few  lines  from 
an    essay  of  one   of  the  men  whose  teaching  he 
strove  to  counteract  will  probably  be  sufficient  to 
convince  you  that  he  was  not  far  wroncr.     Yano- 
Choo  said,  "  Wherein  people  differ  is  the  matter  of 
life  ;  wherein  they  agree  is  death.     While  they  are 
alive  we  have  the  distinctions  of  intelligence  and 
stupidity,   honourableness   and    meanness ;    when 
they  are   dead    we   have  so  much  rottenness  de- 
caying away, — this  is  the  common  lot.     Yet  intel- 
ligence and  stupidity,  honourableness  and  mean- 
ness,  are    not   in    one's    power;    neither    is    that 
condition    of  putridity,    decay,    and   utter   disap- 
pearance.    A  man's  hfe  is  not  in  his  own  hands, 
nor  is  his  death  ;  his  intelligence  is  not  his  own, 
nor  is  his   stupidity,  nor  his  honourableness,  nor 
his  meanness.     All  are  born  and  all  die ; — the  in- 
telligent and  the  stupid,  the  honourable  and  the 
mean.     At  ten  years  old  some  die ;  at  a  hundred 
years  old  some  die.      The  virtuous  and  the  sage 
die;    the   ruffian    and    the    fool    also   die.     Alive, 

46  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

they  were  Yaou  and  Shun,  the  most  virtuous  of 
men  ;  dead,  they  are  so  much  rotten  bone.  AHve, 
they  were  Klee  and  Chow,  the  most  wicked  of 
men  ;  dead,  they  are  so  much  rotten  bone.  Who 
could  know  any  difference  betw^een  their  rotten 
bones }  While  alive,  therefore,  let  us  hasten  to 
make  the  best  of  life.  When  about  to  die,  let 
us  treat  the  thing  with  indifference  and  endure 
it ;  and  seeking  to  accomphsh  our  departure,  so 
abandon  ourselves  to  annihilation." 

Plainer  language  than  this  there  could  not 
be.  The  whole  essay  is  of  the  same  character 
and  tenor.  Its  author  was  avowedly  without 
God  and  without  hope  in  the  world.  He  thought 
human  beings  were  mere  combinations  of  particles 
of  dust,  and  would  dissolve  into  particles  of  dust 
again.  He  saw  that  however  differently  men  lived, 
their  common  lot  was  death ;  and  he  fancied  that 
after  death  there  was  nothing  left  but  "rotten 
bone."  A  man  lives  virtuously,  but  if  he  is  un- 
happy all  through  life,  as  the  virtuous  often  are, 
his  virtue  would  seem,  since  there  is  no  future 
world,  to  have  done  him  no  good.  You  may 
praise  him  after  he  is  dead,  but  that  is  no  more 
to  him  than  to  the  trunk  of  a  tree  or  a  clod  of 
earth.  Or  he  may  live  what  is  called  a  vicious 
life,  but  if  he  have  thereby  the  joy  of  gratifying 
his  desires,  any  blame  you  may  give  him  after  he 
is  dead  will  not  take  away  from  the  reality  of  his 

Hindu  Materialism.  47 

enjoyment.  Blame  is  to  the  bad  man,  after  death, 
like  praise  to  the  good  man — as  worthless  as  it  is 
to  the  trunk  of  a  tree  or  a  clod  of  earth.  Fame, 
therefore,  according  to  Yang  Choo,  is  but  a  phan- 
tom, virtue  is  but  a  delusion,  and  enjoyment  has 
alone  some  reality  and  good  in  it.  Hence  he 
advises  men  not  to  care  for  praise  or  blame,  virtue 
or  vice,  except  as  a  means  of  enjoyment ;  to  seek 
merel}^  to  make  themselves  as  happy  as  they  can 
while  happiness  is  within  their  reach  ;  to  eat  and 
drink,  for  to-morrow  they  die.  That  is  one  of  the 
oldest  systems  of  ethical  materialism  and  of  ma- 
terialistic ethics.  It  is  a  very  simple  theory,  and 
to  the  vast  majority  of  men  it  will  seem  a  very 
consistent  theory.  A  few  exceptionally  consti- 
tuted natures  may  combine  a  materialistic  creed 
with  generous  and  self-denying  conduct,  but  the 
ordinary  man  of  all  lands  and  ages  will  find  in  a 
materialism  which  denies  God  and  a  future  life  the 
justification  of  sensuality  and  selfishness.^ 

None  of  the  greater  systems  of  Hindu  phil- 
osophy can  be  properly  classed  as  materialistic ; 
but  among  the  minor  systems  there  is  one — the 
Charv^aka  philosophy — closely  akin  to  that  just 
described.  It  assumes  that  perception  by  the 
senses  is  the  only  source  of  true  knowledge.  It 
maintains  that  the  four  elements  of  earth,  air,  fire, 
and  water,  are  the  original  principles  of  all  things, 
^  See  Appendix  VI, 

48  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

and  that  they  are  eternal.  It  represents  intel- 
ligence as  resulting  from  a  modification  of  the 
aggregate  of  these  elements,  when  combined  and 
transformed  into  the  human  body,  just  as  the 
power  of  inebriation  is  produced  by  the  mixing 
of  certain  ingredients.  The  faculty  of  thought, 
according  to  it,  is  destroyed  when  the  elements 
from  which  it  arises  are  dissolved.  There  is  no 
soul  apart  from  the  body  :  the  soul  is  only  the 
body  distinguished  by  the  attribute  of  intelligence. 
The  various  phenomena  of  the  world  are  produced 
spontaneously  from  the  inherent  nature  of  things, 
and  there  is  nothing  supernatural  —  no  God,  no 
fate  even,  no  other  world,  no  final  liberation,  no 
recompense  for  acts.  Prosperity  is  heaven  and 
adversity  is  hell,  and  there  is  no  other  heaven  or 
hell.  The  so-called  sacred  books — the  three  Vedas 
— were  composed  by  rogues  or  buffoons.  The 
exercises  of  religion  and  the  practices  of  asceticism 
are  merely  a  means  of  livelihood  for  men  devoid 
of  intellect  and  manliness.  The  sole  end  —  the 
only  reasonable  end — of  man  is  enjoyment : — 

"While  life  remains  let  a  man  live  happily,  let  him  feed  on  ghee, 
even  though  he  runs  in  debt  ; 
When  once  the  body  becomes  ashes,  how^  can  it  ever  return  again  ?" 

That,  so  far  as  I  know,  is  the  only  system  of 
thorough  materialism  among  the  philosophies  of 
India.  And  certainly,  in  one  sense,  it  is  as  thor- 
ough as  can  be  imagined.     It  shows  no  reverence 

Greek  Materialism.  49 

for  any  kind  of  authority  or  tradition — no  defer- 
ence to  respectability  or  public  opinion.  It  recoils 
from  no  consequence  of  its  principles.  At  the 
same  time,  it  is  manifestly  a  very  poor  and  ignoble 
kind  of  philosophy.  It  is  the  theory  of  men  who 
wish  to  dispense  with  all  thoughts  of  God  and  of 
a  moral  government,  in  order  that  they  may  feel 
free  to  indulore  in  a  selfish  and  sensuous  life.^ 


Philosophy  began  its  wonderful  career  in  Greece 
by  attempting  to  resolve  all  the  phenomena  of 
the  universe  into  a  single  material  first  principle, 
such  as  water,  or  air,  or  fire ;  or  rather,  it  began 
by  conjecturing  how  all  things  might  have  been 
evolved  from  such  a  principle.  And  yet  it  was 
not  merely  materialistic,  for  matter  was  supposed 
to  be  filled  by  other  than  material  powers  —  by 
spontaneity,  by  life,  by  intelligence.  The  first  sys- 
tem of  Greek  materialism,  properly  so  called,  was 
that  wrought  out  by  Leucippus,  and  especially 
by  Democritus,  in  the  fi.fth_  century  before  Christ. 
The  materialism  of  the  present  day  is  substanti- 
ally the  materialism  of  Democritus.  This  explains 
why  some  recent  German  writers,  favourable  to 
materialism,  have  extolled  Democritus  as  a  spec- 
ulative and   scientific  genius   of  the  very  highest 

^  See  Appendix  VII. 

50  Anti-TJieistic  Theo7'ies. 

order,  equal  or  superior  to  Plato  and  Aristotle. 
For  such  an  opinion  the  fragmentary  sentences 
which  are  all  that  remain  of  his  numerous  works 
supply  no  warrant.  At  the  same  time,  Democritus 
was  undoubtedly  a  man  of  great  knowledge  for 
the  age  in  which  he  lived,  a  clear  and  consistent 
if  not  very  profound  thinker,  and  endowed  with 
remarkable  aptitudes  for  mathematical  and  phys- 
ical investigation.  There  is,  further,  no  reason  to 
question  that  the  high  reputation  which  he  gained 
for  moral  worth — for  modesty,  disinterestedness, 
integrity,  for  cheerful  wisdom,  for  love  of  truth — 
was  well  merited.  The  views  of  moral  life  which 
he  inculcated  are  the  very  best  that  one  can  con- 
ceive associated  with  materialistic  and  atheistic 
principles.  He  held  that  the  sovereign  good  of 
man  w^as  not  to  be  found  in  the  pleasures  of  sense, 
in  wealth,  in  honours,  or  power — not  in  external 
things,  nor  in  what  depends  on  accident  or  on 
others — but  in  tranquillity  of  mind,  in  a  well- 
regulated,  pure,  and  peaceful  soul.  There  are 
true  and  beautiful  thoughts  in  his  fragments  on 
veracity,  on  courage,  on  prudence,  on  justice,  on 
the  restraint  of  passion,  the  regulation  of  desire, 
respect  for  reason,  obedience  to  law,  &c. 

Democritus  explained  the  universe  by  means  of 
space  and  atoms — the  empty  and  the  full.  The 
atoms,  infinite  in  number,  moving  in  infinite  space, 
give  rise  to  infinite  worlds.     These  atoms  are  eter- 

AtODiisni  of  Democritus.  51 

nal,  and  they  are  imperishable.  There  is  no  real 
creation  and  no  real  destruction  ;  nothing  comes 
from  nothing,  and  what  is  ultimate  in  anything 
never  ceases  to  be  ;  what  is  called  creation  is 
merely  combination,  what  is  called  destruction  is 
merely  separation.  The  quantity  of  matter  in  the 
world,  and  consequently  the  quantity  of  force — 
for  force  is  merely  matter  in  motion — can  neither 
be  increased  nor  diminished,  but  must  be  ever 
the  same.  The  atoms,  he  further  held,  have  in 
themselves  no  qualitative  differences,  but  merely 
quantitative ;  they  differ  from  one  another  only 
in  shape,  arrangement,  and  position.  All  the 
apparently  qualitative  differences  in  objects  are 
due  simply  to  the  quantitative  differences  of  the 
atoms  which  compose  them.  Water  differs  from 
iron  merely  because  the  atoms  of  the  former  are 
smooth  and  round,  and  do  not  fit  into  but  roll 
over  each  other;  while  those  of  the  latter  are 
jagged  and  uneven  and  densely  packed  together. 
In  thus  resolving  all  qualitative  differences  into 
quantitative  differences,  the  system  of  Democritus 
involved  a  distinct  and  marked  advance  over 
Chinese  and  Hindu  materialism,  or  any  of  the 
previous  Greek  philosophies  which  had  attempted 
to  explain  the  world  by  physical  principles.  The 
soul  Democritus  regarded  as  only  a  body  within 
the  body,  made  of  more  delicate  atoms  ;  thought 
as  only  a  more  refined  and   pure  sensation  ;    and 

52  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

sensations  as  the  impressions  produced  by  images 
which  emanated  from  external  objects.       ^ 

He  could  not,  of  course,  overlook  the  obvious 
question,  Why  do  the  atoms  move,  and  how  do 
they  so  combine  as  to  give  rise  to  a  world  at  once 
so  orderly  and  varied  ?  He  answered  that  nothing 
happened  at  random,  but  everything  according  to 
law  and  necessity ;  that  the  atoms  were  infinite  in 
number  and  endlessly  diversified  in  form ;  and 
that  in  falling  through  boundless  space  they 
dashed  against  each  other,  since  the  larger  ones 
moved  more  rapidly  than  the  smaller ;  and  that, 
rebounding  and  whirling  about,  they  formed  ag- 
gregates, vortices,  worlds,  without  number.  He 
thus  sought  to  banish  from  nature  every  notion  of 
a  final  cause  and  supreme  ordaining  Mind,  and  to 
substitute  for  them  a  purely  mechanical,  uncon- 
seiQus,  aimless  necessity.  He  referred  the  popular 
conceptions  of  Deity  partly  to  an  incapacity  to 
understand  fully  the  phenomena  of  which  we  are 
witnesses,  and  partly  to  the  impressions  occasioned 
by  atmospheric  and  stellar  phenomena.  He  thus 
laid  the  foundation  and  drew  the  plan  of  a  sys- 
tem of  atheistical  materialism  which  is  sometimes 
presented  to  us  as  the  most  important  creation 
of  modern  science. 

A  system  like  this  manifestly  contains  in  itself 
the  germs  of  its  own  contradiction  and  destruction. 
It  tends  necessarily  to  sensationalism  and  scepti- 

A  toDiism  of  Dcmocritus.  5  3 

cism,  and  both  of  these  devour,  as  it  were,  the 
mother  which  begat  them.  If  matter  be  the  sole 
source  and  substance  of  the  universe,  sensation 
must  be  due  to  the  impression  of  matter  on 
matter,  and  thought  must  be  but  an  elaboration 
of  sensation,  with  no  truth  or  reality  in  it  beyond 
what  it  derives  from  sensation.  But  in  that  case 
what  do  we  know  of  matter }  Nothing  at  all : 
we  know  merely  our  own  sensations  of  colour,  of 
hearing,  of  smell,  &c.,  and  conjecture,  for  some 
mysterious  reason  or  other,  that  these  are  the 
results  of  material  objects  acting  on  a  material 
subject.  Democritus  saw  this,  —  that  there  was 
no  heat  or  cold  out  of  relation  to  feeling,  no  bitter 
or  sweet  out  of  relation  to  the  sense  of  taste,  no 
colour  independent  of  the  sense  of  sight,  or  sound 
independent  of  that  of  hearing.  He  granted  that 
all  that  our  senses  inform  us  about  things  is 
purely  relative  to  the  senses  of  the  individual — is 
not  what  things  are  in  themselves,  but  what  they 
appear  to  be  to  the  particular  person  whose  senses 
are  affected.  He  supposed  only  space  and  the 
atoms  to  be  real.  But  what  evidence  had  he  as  a 
materialist  and  sensationalist  for  his  atoms  }  None 
of  his  senses  could  apprehend  them;  and  although 
sense  was  so  little  to  be  trusted,  there  was  nothing 
on  his  principles,  and  can  be  nothing  on  materi- 
alistic principles,  equally  to  be  trusted,  or,  indeed, 
to  be  trusted  at  all,  apart  from  it.     Thus  Demo- 

54  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

critus  was  virtually  affirming  that  there  was  all 
truth  in  sensation,  and  that  there  was  no  truth 
in  it.  No  wonder  that  he  said  truth  lay  at  the 
bottom  of  a  well  and  was  hard  to  find.  No 
wonder  that  men  came  after  him  who  said  that 
there  was  no  such  thing  as  truth ;  that  there 
was  nothing  for  reason  save  appearance  and 
opinion,  and  no  higher  law  of  life  than  worldly 
.  prudence.^ 

The  speculations  of  Democritus,  it  cannot  be 
doubted,  contributed  not  a  little  to  the  inaugura- 
tion of  the  era  of  the  Sophi.sts.  The  men  who 
are  known  in  history  under  this  designation  are 
now  generally  admitted  to  have  been  until  re- 
cently represented  as  even  worse  than  they  were. 
They  may  certainly  be  credited  with  having  ren- 
dered service  to  logic,  and  still  more  to  rhetoric 
— with  having  awakened  a  critical  and  inquiring 
spirit — and  with  having  contributed  very  consid- 
erably to  the  increase  of  ideas  and  the  spread  of 
intellectual  culture.  Whatever  merits,  however, 
we  may  thus  assign  to  them,  will  not  warrant  us 
to  reverse  or  do  more  than  unessentially  modify 
the  verdict  which  history  so  long  unhesitatingly 
pronounced  against  them.  They  were  not  men 
who  sought  or  found,  who  believed  in  or  loved 
truth.  Their  fundamental  principles,  so  far  as 
they  had  any,  were  that  sense  is  the  source  of  all 

^  See  Appendix  VIII. 

Greek  A  nti- Materialism.  55 

thought— that  man  is  the  measure  of  all  things 
— that  nothing  is  by  nature  true  or  false,  good 
or  bad,  but  only  by  convention.  It  seemed  to 
Socrates  and  to  Plato  that  these  principles  were 
erroneous,  and  must  involve  in  ruin,  reason,  virtue, 
and  religion,  the  individual  soul  and  society  ;  and 
they  made  it  their  mission  in  life  to  refute  them, 
and  to  prove  that  directly  contrary  principles  are 
to  be  held  ; — that  thought  underlies  sense — that 
the  soul  is  better  than  the  body — that  there  are 
for  all  men  who  would  search  for  them,  a  truth  and 
goodness  which  are  not  individual  and  conven- 
tional, but  universal  and  eternal — that  the  search 
for  them  is  the  prime  duty  of  man — and  that  the 
finding  of  them  is  his  distinctive  dignity  and  glory. 
The  idea  which  Anaxagoras  had  introduced  into 
Greek  philosophy  —  the  idea,  that  the  order  in 
the  universe  could  only  be  accounted  for  by  the 
working  of  an  Eternal  Reason  —  was  welcomed 
by  Socrates,  and  shaped  with  admirable  art  into 
the  theistic  argument  which  is  most  offensive  to 
materialism, — the  design  argument  for  the  exist- 
ence of  God  from  the  evidences  of  design  in 
nature,  and  especially  in  the  animal  frame.  Plato 
strove  to  show  that  all  phenomena  presupposed 
eternal  ideas,  and  that  these  gradually  led  up  to 
the  Supreme  Idea — the  highest  good — God.  Aris- 
totle was  scarcely  less  opposed  to  materialism  than 
Plato,  and  in  his  theory  of  causes  he  constructed  a 

56  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

fortress  which  all  the  forces  of  materialism  have, 
down  to  this  day,  assailed  in  vain.  Unfortunately, 
neither  Plato  nor  Aristotle  was  able  to  raise  him- 
self to  the  sublime  thought  which  seems  to  us  so 
simple— the  thought  of  absolute  creation,  of  crea- 
tion out  of  nothing  by  an  act  of  God's  omnipotent 
will.  Both  granted  to  matter  a  certain  inde- 
pendence of  God  ;  both  believed  it  to  be  in  itself 
uncreated.  Both  failed,  in  consequence,  to  gain 
a  complete  and  decisive  victory  over  materialism. 
Perhaps,  also,  their  philosophies  were  too  large 
and  many-sided  to  find  a  lodgment  in  ordinary 
minds.  Certain  it  is  that  they  were  followed  by 
greatly  inferior  systems,  wdiich,  owing  in  part,  per- 
haps, to  their  very  superficiality  and  narrowness, 
acquired  no  small  popularity. 

One  of  these  systems  was  substantially  just  the 
philosophy  of  Democritus  revived  and  developed. 
Epjcurus,  its  author,  was  by  no  means  what  he 
boasted  himself  to  be — a  "  self-taught  man,"  an 
original  thinker — but  he  had  the  qualities  which  en- 
abled him  to  render  his  views  widely  popular.  In 
his  lifetime  he  gathered  around  him  multitudes  of 
friends.  His  memory  was  cherished  by  his  followers 
with  extraordinary  veneration ;  in  fact,  they  paid 
to  him  the  same  sort  of  idolatrous  homage  which 
Comte  yielded  to  Madame  Clothilde  de  Vaux,  J. 
S.  Mill  to  his  wife,  and  certain  Comtists  to  their 
master.     Worship  is  natural  to  man,  and  when  cut 

Epicurean  Materialism.  57 

off  from  the  true  object  of  his  worship  he  will 
lavish  his  affections  on  objects  unworthy  of  them.  ; 
The  philosophy  of  Epicurus  was  materialism  in 
the  most  finished  form  which  it  acquired  in  the 
ancient  world.  It  had  the  great  good  fortune  also 
to  find  in  the  Roman  poet  Lucretius  an  expositor 
of  marvellous  genius  —  the  brightest  star  by  far 
in  the  constellation  of  materialists.  The  atomic  / 
materialism  of  the  present  day  is  still  substantial- 
ly the  materialism  which  Epicurus  and  Lucretius 
propounded.  It  seems  necessary,  therefore,  and 
may  not  be  without  present  interest,  to  consider 
briefly  the  principles  and  pretensions  of  the  mate- 
rialism maintained  by  the  famous  Greek  philoso- 
pher and  the  still  more  famous  Roman  poet.      ^• 

It  is  a  theory,  I  may  remark,  which  originated 
in  a  practical  motive.  Epicurus  avowedly  did  not 
seek  truth  for  truth's  sake.  He  sought  it,  and 
taught  others  to  seek  it,  only  so  far  as  it  appeared 
to  be  conducive  to  happiness.  Truth,  like  virtue,  ' 
was  in  his  eyes,  and  in  the  eyes  of  his  followers,  to 
be  cultivated  merely  as  a  means  of  avoiding  pain 
and  procuring  pleasure.  The  Epicureans  sought, 
therefore,  an  explanation  of  the  universe  which 
would  free  men  from  religious  fears,  and  from  re- 
ligious beliefs  so  far  as  these  caused  fear.  Such 
an  explanation  they  found  in  the  theory  of  De- 
mocritus,  and  hence  they  adopted  it.  The  great 
reason  why    Lucretius    glories    in    the    Epicurean 

58  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

theory  is,  that  it  emancipates  the  mind  from  all 
dread  of  the  Divine  anger,  and  all  belief  in  a 
future  world.  Now,  it  may  fairly  be  doubted, 
I  think,  if  a  system  which  springs  from  such 
a  motive  can  be  other  than  very  defective.  I 
errant  that  there  was  considerable  excuse  for  the 
motive  in  the  evils  which  superstition  had  caused, 
and  which  Lucretius  has  so  powerfully  described. 
In  judging  either  Epicurus  or  Lucretius,  it  would 
be  most  unjust  and  uncharitable  to  forget  that 
the  religion  with  which  they  were  familiar  was  so 
fearfully  corrupt  and  degrading  as  naturally  to 
occasion  disbelief  in,  and  aversion  to,  all  religion. 
But  none  the  less  is  it  true  that  those  whose  chief 
interest  in  the  study  of  nature  is  the  hope  of  find- 
ing the  means  of  destroying  or  dispelling  religion 
are  almost  certain  to  fall  into  grave  mistakes  in 
their  attempts  to  explain  nature.  The  Epicureans 
did  so.  At  the  same  time,  the  motive,  such  as  it 
w^as,  induced  them  to  study  nature  more  intensely 
than  they  would  otherwise  have  done,  or  than 
the  rest  of  their  contemporaries  did  ;  and  physical 
science  profited  from  this  in  no  small  measure. 
With  all  its  defects  the  atomic  doctrine  is  the 
most  valuable  theory,  falling  within  the  sphere 
of  physical  science,  which  modern  times  have  in- 
herited from  antiquity.  That  all  physical  things 
at  least  may  be  resolved  into  atomic  elements  ; 
that  these   elements   can   neither  be  created    nor 

Epicurean  Mater ialisvu  59 

destroyed,  neither  increased  nor  diminished  in 
number,  by  natural  forces  ;  that  matter  may  con- 
sequently change  endlessly  in  form  and  force  in 
direction,  but  that  the  quantity  of  matter  and  the 
amount  of  force  in  the  world  are  always  the  same, — 
are  scientific  conceptions  so  grand  that  the  m.odern 
world  is  apt  to  believe  that  the  ancient  world  could 
not  have  possessed  them.  There  can  be  no  doubt, 
however,  that  all  these  ideas  are  more  than  two 
thousand  years  old.  They  lay  at  the  very  founda- 
tion of  the  atomic  philosophy.  All  that  the  most 
recent  science  has  done  in  regard  to  them  has  been 
to  verify  them  in  particular  instances  by  exact 
experiments.  Modern  men  of  science  are  apt  to 
imagine  that  this  is  really  for  the  first  time  to  have 
established  them.  But  this  is  not  the  case.  No 
general  truth  can  be  established  by  experiment,  or 
be  seen  by  the  eye  or  touched  by  the  hand.  It  can 
only  be  reached  by  thought,  and  thought  reached 
all  the  general  truths  in  question  really,  although 
vaguely,  very  long  ago.  I  cannot  admit  that  there 
is  an  essential  difference  even  in  method  between 
the  ancient  and  the  modern  atomists.  To  say  that 
the  former  assumed  their  theory,  and  unfolded  its 
applications  by  reasoning  down  from  it,  and  that 
the  latter  reverse  the  process  and  reason  up  to 
it  by  induction,  is  thoroughly  inaccurate.  The 
ancients  proceeded  so  far  by  induction  ;  it  is  only 
so  far  that  the  moderns  can  proceed  by  it. 

6o  Anti'llicistic  Theories. 

According  to  the  theory  we  are  considering,  the 
ultimate  elements  of  things  are  body  and  space — 
the  atom  and  the  void.  Space  is  limitless,  im- 
measurable ;  the  gleaming  thunderbolt  speeding 
through  it  for  ever  would  fail  to  traverse  it,  or 
even  in  the  least  to  lessen  what  of  it  remained. 
The  atoms  are  numberless,  ungenerated,  infran- 
gible, unchangeable,  indestructible.  Their  only 
qualities  are  form,  magnitude,  and  density  ;  and 
their  variations  in  these  respects  account  for  the 
diverse  qualities  in  the  diverse  objects  of  the 
universe.  This  theory  ought  at  once  to  raise  the 
questions, — What  proof  is  there  that  these  indivis- 
ible atoms  are  really  ultimate  in  any  other  sense 
than  that  they  are  the  primary  constituents  of 
body  ?  What  evidence  is  there  that  they  are  self- 
existent  }  Why  should  reason  stop  with  them  and 
seek  no  explanation  of  them  ?  How  is  it  that  they 
account  not  only  for  other  things  but  for  them- 
selves ?  But  to  these  questions  we  get  no  rational 
replies.  These  are  questions  which  materialism 
has  never  dared  fairly  to  confront  and  grapple 
with.  It  has  always  shown,  on  the  contrary,  by 
its  evasion  of  them,  a  certain. vague  and  confused 
consciousness  that  there  is  something  unsound  and 
insecure  at  its  very  basis.  Materialism,  which  is 
so  bold  in  hypothetical  explanations  of  things,  is 
strangely  timid  in  self-criticism. 

Epicurean    materialism,    like    all    materialism. 

Epicurean  Materialism.  6i 

affirms  matter  to  be  eternal ;  but  when  you  seek 
a  reason  for  the  assertion,  you  can  find  none  save 
that  it  is  impossible  something  should  come  from 
nothing.  That  is  to  say.  Epicurean  materialism, 
like  all  materialism,  starts  with  an  illegitimate 
application  of  the  principle  of  causality,  or  of  its 
axiomatic  expression, — "  Nothing  which  once  was 
not  could  ever  of  itself  come  into  being."  By  the 
great  body  of  thoughtful  men,  both  in  ancient  and 
modern  times,  this  has  been  taken  to  mean  merely 
that  nothing  can  be  produced  without  an  adequate 
cause ;  that  every  change  demands  a  full  explana- 
tion ;  that  every  phenomenon  must  have  a  suffici- 
ent ground.  Epicurus,  Lucretius,  and  materialists 
in  general,  assume  it  to  mean  that,  since  matter  is, 
matter  must  always  have  been  ;  that  matter  could 
never  have  been  created  ;  that  the  world  was  un- 
caused. If  the  assumption  be  a  mere  assumption 
— if  no  reason  be  given  for  this  extraordinary  in- 
terpretation— it  is  a  most  inexcusable  procedure. 
Now,  vast  as  the  literature  of  materialism  is,  you 
will  search  it  through  in  vain,  from  the  fragments 
of  Democritus  to  the  last  edition  of  Biichner,  for 
a  single  reason,  a  single  argument,  to  justify  this 
manifest  begging  of  the  whole  question.  Instead, 
you  will  find  only  poetical  and  rhetorical  reitera- 
tions of  the  assumption  itself,  diffuse  assertions  of 
the  eternity,  indestructibility,  and  self-existence  of 
matter.     Materialism  thus  starts  with  an  irrational 

62  Anti-TJicistic  llicories. 

assumption,  the  true  character  of  which  it  endeav;: 
ours  to  conceal  by  appealing  merely  to  the  ima- 

It  was  not  enough,  however,  for  the  purpose 
which  the  atomic  atheists  had  in  view  that  they 
should  merely  suppose  the  atoms  to  be  eternal.  It 
was  further  necessary  for  them  to  suppose  that  the 
atoms,  although  without  colour  or  any  property 
perceptible  to  the  senses,  had  every  variety  of 
shape,  and  the  particular  sizes,  required  to  enable 
them  to  compose  the  vast  variety  of  things  in  the 
universe.  If  they  had  all  been  alike,  they  could, 
according  to  the  admission  of  the  atomists  them- 
selves, have  formed  no  universe.  But,  curiously 
enough,  while  admitting  that  they  did  not  see  that 
they  were  bound  to  ask  and  to  explain  how  the 
atoms  came  to  be  unlike  ;  how  some  of  them  came 
to  be  smooth  and  round,  others  to  be  cubical,  others 
to  be  hooked  and  jagged,  &c.  ;  and,  in  a  word,  how 
they  all  came  to  be  just  so  shaped  as  to  be  able 
collectively  to  constitute  an  orderly  and  magnifi- 
cent universe.  Still  more  curiously,  all  materialism 
down  to  this  day  has  been  afflicted  with  the  same 
blindness.  My  belief  is,  that  if  it  were  not  thus 
blind  it  would  die.  The  light  would  kill  it.  It 
would  see  that  the  atoms  on  which  it  theorised 
could  not  be  really  ultimate,  and  implied  the 
power  and  wisdom  of  God. 

The    Epicurean    materialists    found    that,    even 

Epicurean  Materialism.  ^i 

when  they  had  imagined  their  atoms  to  be  eternal, 
and  to  be  endowed  with  suitable  shapes,  their 
hypothesis  would  not  work.  They  found  that 
they  required  to  put  something  more  into  their 
atoms  before  they  could  get  a  universe  from  them. 
For  they  had  to  ask  themselves,  How  do  the 
atoms  ever  meet  and  combine  ?  It  is  obvious 
that  if  they  all  fall  in  straight  lines,  and  with 
the  same  rapidity,  they  can  never  meet.  Hence 
Democritus  said  that  the  larger  ones  move  faster 
than  the  smaller  ones,  and  that  this  is  the  cause 
of  their  collision  and  combination.  But,  objected 
Aristotle,  that  cannot  be  the  case  in  a  perfect 
vacuum  where  no  resistance  whatever  is  offered  to 
the  fall  of  bodies,  whether  large  or  small.  There 
all  bodies  must  fall  with  equal  rapidity.  The 
Epicureans  admitted  that  this  objection  was  fatal 
to  the  atomic  theory  as  presented  by  Democritus. 
Still,  as  they  denied  any  intelligent  First  Cause, 
they  had  to  devise  some  hypothesis  of  the  contact 
and  aggregation  of  the  atoms.  They  imagined, 
accordingly,  a  small  deviation  of  the  atoms  from 
a  straight  line.  But  how  can  this  deviation  be 
produced }  Not  from  without  the  atoms,  since 
nothing  but  void  space  is  supposed  to  be  with- 
out them,  and  all  divine  or  supernatural  interpo- 
sition is  expressly  rejected.  The  Epicureans  had 
therefore  no  other  resource  than  to  hold  that  the 
atoms  were  endowed  with  a  certain  spontaneity, 

54  Anti-Thcisiic  Theories. 

and  deviated  from  the  straight  line  of  their  own 
accord  ;  they  ascribed  to  them  a  slight  measure  of 
freewill.  They  have  often  been  ridiculed  for  this, 
and,  it  cannot  be  denied,  with  justice  ;  but  it  is  also 
obvious  that  there  was  scarcely  any  other  hypo- 
thesis for  them  to  adopt,  so  long  as  they  adhered 
to  their  atheism  and  materialism. 

In  even  a  brief  and  general  estimate  of  the 
Epicurean  system,  this  notion,  that  "  when  bodies 
fall  sheer  down  through  empty  space  by  their  own 
weights,  at  quite  uncertain  times  and  spots  they 
swerve  a  little,  yet  only  the  least  possible,  from 
their  course,"  must  have  due  stress  laid  on  it.  For 
it  was  no  accessory  or  subordinate  feature  of  the 
Epicurean  theory,  but  what  was  most  distinctiye 
as  well  as  original  in  it ;  what  differentiated  it 
from  the  allied  doctrine  of  Democritus  on  the  one 
hand,  and  from  the  antagonistic  doctrine  of  the 
Stoics  on  the  other.  It  was  precisely  by  means 
of  this  conception  that  Epicurus  and  Lucretius 
fancied  they  escaped  the  necessity  of  believing 
either  in  the  creative  and  providential  action  of 
God,  or  in  the  sway  of  fate, — the  two  beliefs 
which  seemed  to  them  to  be  the  great  enemies 
of  mental  peace. 

The  hypothesis  of  a  slight  power  of  deviation  in 
the  atoms  was  rested  on  two  reasons.  In  the  first 
place,  it  was  needed  to  explain  the  formation  of 
the  universe  without  the  intervention  of  a  super- 

Epicurean  Materialism.  65 

natural  cause.  The  formation  of  the  universe 
supposed  collision  of  the  atoms.  But  variety  of 
shape  and  even  difference  of  weight  failed  to 
account  for  this.  If  empty  space  offers  no  resist- 
ance to  anything  in  any  direction  at  any  time,  all 
things,  whatever  their  weight,  must  move  through 
it  with  equal  velocity.  If  they  so  move,  however, 
in  perfectly  parallel  lines,  they  must  move,  for  ever, 
without  clashing  against  one  another,  and  con- 
sequently without  producing  varied  motions  and 
compound  bodies.  Thus  nature  never  would  have 
formed  anything.  How,  then,  could  aught  have 
been  produced  1  Only  by  a  certain  freedom  of 
action  in  nature,  or  by  the  free  action,  the  inter- 
vention, of  a  Being  above  nature.  But  it  was  a 
foregone  conclusion  with  Epicurus  and  Lucretius, 
just  as  it  is  with  a  host  of  modern  scientific  men, 
that  they  would  not  seek  for  anything  above 
nature — that  they  would  not  believe  there  could 
be  anything  beyond  matter.  They  were  deter- 
mined to  account  for  everything  entirely  by 
natural  principles,  by  material  primordia.  There- 
fore they  were  compelled  to  ascribe  contingency  to 
nature,  spontaneity  to  matter.  At  the  same  time 
they  had  a  respect  for  facts,  and  therefore  attri- 
buted to  nature  as  little  contingency,  to  matter  as 
little  spontaneity,  as  possible.  The  atoms  must 
swerve  a  little,  and  yet  so  very  little,  that  neither 
they  nor  the  bodies   composed   of  them  can   be 


66  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

described  as  moving  "  slantingly  "  or  "  obliquely," 
since  this  the  reality  would  refute.  The  only 
deviations  possible  must  be  imperceptible^  de- 
viations. It  has  been  said  that  tKe^'Epicureans,  by 
ascribing  to  atoms  the  power  of  deviation,  intro- 
duced a  quite  incalculable  element  into  their 
system.  But  they  had  foreseen  the  objection,  and 
also  that  they  could  return  to  it  a  twofold  answer, 
— namely,  first,  that  the  deviations  were  impercep- 
tible, leaving  all  that  was  perceptible  calculable, 
so  that  there  could  be  nowhere  any  miracle  or 
interruption  of  natural  action ;  and  secondly,  that 
although  it  could  not  be  determined  when  and 
where  an  atom  would  act  in  the  way  of  deviation, 
once  it  had  so  acted  all  the  results  could  be 
determined — or,  in  other  words,  that  spontaneity 
and  law,  contingency  and  calculation,  were  not 
incompatible.  Much  might,  perhaps,  be  said  in 
defence  of  these  answers.  The  weakness  of  the 
hypothesis  lay  less  at  this  point  than  in  ignoring 
the  consideration  that  if  the  atoms  possessed  the 
power  of  deviation  that  was  itself  a  fact  to  be 
accounted  for.  Whence  came  the  countless  hosts 
of  atoms  to  be  all  provided  with  so  remarkable  a 
characteristic  }  Some  one  ground  or  cause  was 
demanded  for  their  all  agreeing  in  this  curious  and 
useful  peculiarity.  Such  single  ground  or  cause 
could  only  be  a  something  above  and  beyond 
themselves.       The    feeble    wills    with   which    the 

Epicurean  Materialisvi.  6/ 

atoms  were  supposed  to  be  endowed  implied  a 
mighty  supernatural  will  as  their  source.  For  not 
recognising  this  single  ultimate  will  Epicurus  and 
Lucretius  had  no  relevant  reason.  They  stopped 
short  at  the  atoms  in  sheer  wilfulness  ;  they  saw 
nothing  beyond  them  because  they  had  before- 
hand determined  on  no  account  to  look  beyond 

In  the  second  place,  the  hypothesis  of  a  certain 
degree  of  spontaneity  in  the  atoms  recommended 
itself  to  the  Epicureans  as  a  warrant  for  rejecting 
fatalism,  and  as  an  explanation  of  free  will  in  living 
things.  Epicurus  pronounced  the  fatalism  of  the 
physicists  and  philosophers  even  more  disquieting 
and  discouraging  than  superstition ;  the  goodwill 
of  the  gods  might  be  gained  by  honouring  them, 
but  there  are  no  means  by  which  fate  can  be 
controlled.  He  and  his  followers  accepted  free- 
will in  man  as  a  fact  fully  guaranteed  to  them  by 
consciousness  and  observation.  But  if  there  be 
freewill  in  man  there  must  be  freewill  elsewhere 
to  account  for  it ;  only  nothing  can  come  from 
nothing  ;  only  necessity  from  necessity.  If,  then, 
there  be  no  Being  above  nature,  and  all  must  be 
explained  from  nature,  freewill  must  have  its 
cause  in  nature,  and  nature  cannot  be  wholly 
subject  to  necessity.  "If  all  motion  is  ever  linked 
together,  and  a  new  motion  ever  springs  from 
another  in  a  fixed  order,  and  first  beginnings  do 

68  Anti-Theisiic  Theories. 

not  by  swerving  make  some  commencement  of 
motion  to  break  through  the  decrees  of  fate,  that 
cause  follow  not  cause  from  everlasting,  whence 
have  all  living  creatures  here  on  earth,  whence,  I 
ask,  has  been  wrested  from  the  fates  the  power 
by  which  we  go  forward  whither  the  will  leads 
each,  by  which  likewise  we  change  the  direction 
of  our  motions  neither  at  a  fixed  time  nor  fixed 
place,  but  when  and  where  the  mind  itself  has 
prompted  ? "  The  Roman  poet  could  give  to  this 
question  of  his  own  no  more  rational  answer  on 
materialistic  principles  than  the  one  which  has  been 
mentioned.  If  the  materialist  maintain  that  there 
is  nothing  but  necessity  in  nature,  he  must  main- 
tain also  that  there  is  nothing  but  necessity  in 
man.  If  he  admit  that  there  is  spontaneity  or 
freedom  in  man,  he  must  admit  that  it  is  inherent 
likewise  in  nature.  Necessity  in  both  nature  and 
man,  or  freedom  in  both,  is  the  only  reasonable 
alternative.  The  effort  to  deduce  truly  voluntary 
movements  from  purely  mechanical  causes  is 
nonsensical.  But  when  Epicurus  and  Lucretius 
followed  reason  so  far,  why  did  they  not  follow  it 
farther,  and  pack  reason  as  well  as  will  into  their 
atoms,  and  emotion  and  conscience  too,  and  so 
endow  each  atom  with  a  complete  mind  t  They 
might  at  least  have  anticipated  Professor  Clifford, 
and  told  us  that  "  a  moving  molecule  of  inorganic 
matter  possesses  a  small  piece  of  mind-stuff." 

Epicurean  Mateyialisnt.  69 

Having  conformed  their  atoms  to  the  needs  of 
their  system,  the  Epicureans  proceeded  to  explain 
how  the  universe  was  formed ;  how  from  the 
boundless  mass  of  matter,  heaven,  and  earth,  and 
ocean,  sun  and  moon,  rose  in  nice  order.  The 
atoms,  so  we  are  told,  "jostling  about  of  their  own 
accord,  in  infinite  modes,  were  often  brought  to- 
gether confusedly,  irregularly,  and  to  no  purpose, 
but  at  length  they  successfully  coalesced  ;  at  least, 
such  of  them  as  were  thrown  together  suddenly 
became,  in  succession,  the  beginnings  of  great 
things — as  earth,  and  air,  and  sea,  and  heaven." 
With  magnificent  breadth  of  conception,  and  often 
with  genuine  scientific  insight,  Lucretius,  follow- 
ing the  guidance  of  Epicurus,  has  described  how, 
in  obedience  to  mechanical  laws,  from  atoms  of 
"solid  singleness,"  inorganic  matter  assumed  its 
various  forms  and  organic  nature  passed  through 
its  manifold  stages  ;  what  living  creatures  issued 
from  the  earth  ;  how  speech  was  invented ;  how 
society  originated  and  governments  were  insti- 
tuted ;  how  civilisation  commenced  ;  and  in  what 
ways  religion  gained  an  entry  into  men's  hearts. 
He  thoroughly  appreciated  the  significance  of  the 
doctrine  of  evolution  in  the  system  of  materialism. 
The  development  theory  has  been  ingeniously 
improved  at  many  particular  points  in  recent 
times,  but  it  has  not  been  widened  in  range.  It 
was  just  as  comprehensive  in  the  hands  of  Lucre- 

70  Anti-TJieistic  TJieorics. 

tius  as  it  is  in  those  of  Herbert  Spencer.  Its  aim 
and  method  are  still  the  same  ;  its  problems  are 
the  same ;  its  principles  of  solution  are  the  same ; 
the  solutions  themselves  are  often  the  same.  I 
state  this  as  a  fact,  not  as  a  reproach;  for  I  do  not 
object  to  the  development  theory  in  itself,  but 
only  to  it  in  association  with  atheism.  Atheism 
has  done  much  to  discredit  it ;  it  has  contributed 
nothing  to  the  proof  of  atheism. 

The  Epicurean  materialists  refused  to  recognise 
anywhere  the  traces  of  a  creative  or  governing 
Intelligence.  The  mechanical  explanation  which 
they  gave  of  the  formation  of  things  seemed  to 
them  to  preclude  the  view  that  aught  was  effected 
by  Divine  power  or  wisdom.  Like  their  successors 
in  modern  times,  they  regarded  efficient  causes  as 
incompatible  with  final  causes ;  and,  like  them 
also,  they  dwelt  in  confirmation  of  their  opinion 
on  the  alleged  defects  of  nature,  blaming  the 
arrangements  of  the  heavens  and  the  earth  with 
the  same  vehemence  and  narrowness  which  have 
become  so  familiar  to  us  of  late.  And  yet  they 
were  not  unwilling  to  admit  the  existence  of  the 
gods  worshipped  by  the  people,  if  conceived  of  as 
only  a  sort  of  etherealised  men,  utterly  uncon- 
nected with  the  world  and  its  affairs.  "  Beware," 
says  Epicurus,  "  of  attributing  the  revolutions  of 
the  heaven,  and  eclipses,  and  the  rising  and  setting 
of  starSj  either  to  the  original  contrivance  or  con- 

Epiawean  Materialism.  j  i 

tinued  regulation  of  a  Divine  Being.  For  business, 
and  cares,  and  anger,  and  benevolence,  are  not 
accordant  with  happiness,  but  arise  from  weak- 
ness, and  fear,  and  dependence  on  others.'  The 
Epicureans,  in  fact,  conceived  of  the  gods  as  ideal 
Epicureans — as  beings  serenely  happy,  without 
care,  occupation,  or  sorrow. 

To  belief  in  the  immortality  of  the  soul  they 
offered  strenuous  opposition.  It  was  one  of  the 
prime  recommendations  of  materialism  in  their 
eyes,  that  it  supplied  them  with  arms  to  combat 
this  belief  They  laboured  to  prove  the  soul  ma- 
terial in  order  that  they  might  infer  it  to  be  mortal, 
and  with  such  diligence  that  scarcely  a  plausible 
argument  seems  to  have  escaped  them.  They 
could  not,  they  felt,  emancipate  men  from  fear 
of  future  retribution  otherwise  than  by  persuading 
them  that  there  was  no  future  to  fear — that  death 
was  an  eternal  sleep.  Therefore  they  taught  that 
"the  nature  of  the  mind  cannot  come  into  being 
alone  without  the  body,  nor  exist  far  away  from 
sinews  and  blood ; "  that  "  death  concerns  us  not 
a  jot,  since  the  nature  of  the  mind  is  proved  to 
be  mortal ; "  that  "  death  is  nothing  to  us,  for  that 
which  is  dissolved  is  devoid  of  sensation,  and  that 
which  is  devoid  of  sensation  is  nothing  to  us." 
All  the  consolation  which  Lucretius  can  offer  to 
the  heart  shrinking  at  the  prospect  of  death,  is  the 
reflection  that  it  will  escape  the  ills  of  life. 

^2  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

"  But  thy  dear  home  shall  never  greet  thee  more  ! 
No  more  the  best  of  wives  !  thy  babes  beloved, 
Whose  haste  half  met  thee,  emulous  to  snatch 
The  dulcet  kiss  that  roused  thy  secret  soul, 
Again  shall  never  hasten!  nor  thine  arm, 
With  deeds  heroic,  guard  thy  country's  weal ! 
'  O  mournful,  mournful  fate  ! '  thy  friends  exclaim 
'  One  envious  hour  of  these  invalued  joys 
Robs  thee  for  ever  ! '     But  they  add  not  here, 
'It  robs  thee,  too,  of  all  desire  of  joy'— 
A  truth  once  uttered,  that  the  mind  would  free 
From  every  dread  and  trouble.      '  Thou  art  safe  ! 
The  sleep  of  death  protects  thee,  and  secures 
From  all  the  outnumbered  woes  of  mortal  life.'  " 

It  is  strange  that  a  thoughtful  mind — that  a 
susceptible  heart — that  a  man  of  poetic  genius — 
could  for  a  moment  have  deluded  himself  with  the 
fancy  that  humanity  was  to  be  comforted  in  its 
sorrows,  or  strengthened  for  its  duties,  by  a  notion 
like  this.  No  human  being  can  be  profited  by 
being  told  that  he  will  die  as  the  brute  dieth ;  that 
death  will  free  him  from  pain  and  fear  only  by 
robbing  him  of  all  joy  and  love.  But  such  is  the 
only  gospel  which  materialism  has  to  offer.  The 
system  of  which  the  first  word  is,  In  the  beginning 
there  was  nothing  except  space  and  atoms,  has  for 
rits  last  word.  Eternal  Death ;  as  the  system  of 
which  the  first  word  is.  In  the  beginning  God 
created  the  heavens  and  the  earth,  has  for  its  last 
word,  Eternal  Life.  What  man  who  has  a  mind 
to  think  can  hesitate  to  choose  between  Eternal 
Reason  and  Eternal  Unreason  }     What  man  who 

Epicurean  Materialism.  73 

/has  a  heart  to  feel  can  hesitate  to  choose  between 
^Eternal  Life  and  Eternal  Death  ?  ^ 

Yet  there  are  those  who  hesitate  to  choose  ;  and 
there  are  those  who  choose  wrongly.  Much  may 
be  said  in  excuse  of  those  who  thus  doubted  and 
erred  in  pagan  Greece  and  Rome.  The  only  re- 
ligions with  which  they  were  acquainted  gave  the 
most  inconsistent  and  perverted  views,  both  of 
Deity  and  of  the  world  to  come.  If  men  in  their 
abhorrence  of  these  religions  unhappily  rejected 
all  religion,  we  must  pity  them  even  more  than  we 
condemn  them.  But  we  live  in  a  later  and  more 
favoured  age,  when  God  has  been  clearly  revealed 
in  the  beauty  of  holiness  and  love,  and  when  life 
and  immortality  have  been  brought  to  light.  A 
higher  good  than  the  greatest  of  Greek  or  Roman 
sages  ever  longed  for  has  been  placed  within  the 
reach  of  the  humblest,  the  poorest  the  least  in- 
structed. The  way  has  been  made  plain  by  which 
we  may  be  freed  from  fear  of  death,  and  from  fear 
of  all  that  lies  beyond  death.  We  can  have  no 
excuse  for  preferring  death  to  life.  Eternal  death 
ought  to  be  no  bribe  to  ns.  Light  has  come  into 
the  world.  Let  us  not  be  among  those  who  choose 
darkness  rather  than  light. 

^  See  Appendix  IX. 

74  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 



In  the  middle  ages  there  was  little  physical  science 
and  almost  no  materialism.  This  was  not  be- 
cause there  were  few  great  minds  or  little  mental 
activity  in  those  ages,  but  because  the  human  in- 
tellect was  then  almost  exclusively  occupied  with 
religion  and  theology.  Christianity  rested  on  the 
belief  that  there  was  a  God,  the  Creator  of  the 
universe  and  the  Father  of  spirits,  who  had  in  the 
fulness  of  time  made  a  special  and  perfect  revela- 
tion of  His  character  and  will  in  Jesus  Christ. 
Before  the  light  and  power  of  this  belief,  ancient 
materialism,  like  ancient  polytheism,  faded  and 
withered  away.  The  Christian  Church  in  its  earli- 
est days  had  to  battle  with  heathenism  and  Juda- 
ism, open  and  avowed,  or  with  suppressed  tend- 
encies towards  both,  expressing  themselves  in  the 
form  of  heresy.  It  had  neither  the  time  nor  the 
inclination   to   busy    itself  directly  with   theories 

Materialism  in  the  Mieldle  Ages.  75 

which  it  felt  confident  of  being  able  to  destroy  by 
simply  propagating  itself.  The  Christian  Fathers, 
down  to  the  fall  of  the  Roman  empire,  had  their 
energies  fully  occupied  in  the  defence  of  funda- 
mental truths  of  religion,  and  especially  of  those 
involved  in  the  great  doctrine  of  the  Trinity.  The 
schoolmen  sought  to  elaborate  the  faith  which  they 
had  inherited  into  a  comprehensive  philosophy. 
Scholasticism  was  essentially  the  union,  or,  per- 
haps, rather  the  fusion  of  theology  and  philosophy. 
It  proceeded  on  the  assumption  that  there  are  not 
two  studies,  one  of  philosophy  and  the  other  of 
religion,  but  that  true  philosophy  is  true  religion, 
and  true  religion  is  true  philosophy.  A  theologi- 
cal philosophy  was  alone  possible  in  the  middle 
ages,  and  the  widespread  and  intense  interest  felt 
in  it  shows  how  well  adapted  it  was  to  meet  the 
desires  of  men  in  those  times.  Medieval  specu- 
lation was,  as  a  whole,  theistic  and  Christian;  it 
was,  as  a  whole,  an  effort  to  comprehend  as  well 
as  to  apprehend  Christian  truth.  Even  w^hen 
not  so  it  might  be  pantheistic,  but  it  was  not 
materialistic.  Mohammedanism,  although  it  was 
not  found  to  be  incompatible  w^ith  the  culture 
of  physical  science,  was  no  less  hostile  to  ma- 
terialism than  Christianity.  Thus  for  centuries 
materialism  had  almost  no  existence,  almost  no 

^  See  Appendix  X. 

^6  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

With  the  downfall  of  scholasticism  and  the 
emancipation  of  the  mind  from  ecclesiastical 
authority,  materialistic  tendencies  began  to  mani- 
fest themselves;  but  it  is  late  even  in  modern 
times  before  we  reach  a  completely  materialistic 
system.  Lord  Bacon  ranked  Democritus  higher 
than  Aristotle,  but  he  was  no  materialist ;  he 
simply  regarded  the  atomic  hypothesis  as  lumin- 
ous and  fruitful. 

"  I  had  rather,"  he  wrote,  "believe  all  the  fables  in 
the  legend,  and  the  Talmud,  and  the  Alcoran,  than 
that  this  universal  frame  is  without   Mind  ;  and 
therefore,  God  never  wrought  miracles  to  convince 
atheism,  because  His  ordinary  works  convince  it. 
It    is    true,    a    little    philosophy    inclineth    man's 
mind  to  atheism,  but  depth  in  philosophy  bring- 
eth  men's  minds  about  to  religion  ;  for  while  the 
mind   of  man    looketh    upon   the   second    causes 
scattered,  it  may  sometimes  rest  in  them,  and  go 
no   farther;   but  when  it  beholdeth  the  chain  of 
them    confederate   and   linked   together,    it   must 
needs  fly  to    Providence  and   Deity.     Nay,  even 
that  school  which  is  most  accused  of  atheism  doth 
most  demonstrate  religion — that  is  the  school  of 
Leucippus,  and  Democritus,  and  Epicurus  ;  for  it  is 
a  thousand  times  more  credible,  that  four  mutable 
elements  and    one  immutable  fifth  essence,   duly 
and  eternally  placed,  need  no  God,  than  that  an 
army  of  infinite  small  portions,  or  seeds  unplaced. 

Materialism  in  England.  yy 

should    have    produced    this    order    and    beauty 
without  a   Divine  Marshal." 

Gassendi,  a  dignitary  of  the  Roman  Catholic 
Church,  a  contemporary  and  friend  yet  opponent 
of  Descartes,  laboured  to  present  the  life  and  the 
doctrines  of  Epicurus  in  the  most  favourable  light. 
He  endeavoured  to  prove  that  all  physical  pheno- 
mena might"  be  accounted  for  by  the  vacuum  and 
atoms,  and  referred  to  mathematical  and  mechan- 
ical laws.  He  rejected,  however,  all  Epicurean 
tenets  which  seemed  to  him  inconsistent  with 
Christian  truth.  He  maintained  God  to  be  the 
Creator  of  the  atoms,  the  first  cause  and  ultimate 
explanation  of  all  things.  Some  of  his  contempo- 
raries insinuated  doubts  as  to  the  sincerity  of  his 
religious  professions,  and  some  of  the  historians 
of  philosophy  have  repeated  them,  but  they  are 
wholly  unsupported  by  evidence,  and  quite  incon- 
sistent with  our  general  knowledge  of  the  high 
personal  character  of  the  man. 

Among  his  friends  was  the  famous  Thomas 
Hobbes.  He  was,  perhaps,  more  of  a  materialist 
not  only  than  any  man  of  his  generation,  but  than 
any  writer  to  be  met  with  in  literature  until  we 
come  down  to  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury. He  held  that  w^e  can  only  reason  where 
we  can  add  and  subtract,  combine  and  divide. 
But  where  is  that .?  Only  where  there  is  what 
will  compound  -and  divide,  only  where  there  are 

yS  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

bodies  and  bodily  properties,  since  there  is  no 
place  for  composition  or  division,  no  capacity  of 
more  or  less,  in  spirit.  The  consequence  is  plain, 
— there  can  be  no  science,  no  philosophy  of  spirit. 
Spirit  even  as  finite  is  beyond  comprehension, 
beyond  the  range  of  experiment  and  sense,  and 
therefore  beyond  reasoning  and  beyond  science  ; 
and  still  more  is  it  so  with  Spirit  as  infinite, 
eternal,  ingenerable,  incomprehensible,  that  is  with 
the  doctrine  of  God  or  Theology.  We  have  here 
a  narrow  notion  of  the  nature  of  reasoning,  and 
then  a  notion  of  its  object  made  equally  narrow 
to  suit  it.  The  reduction  of  reasoning  to  the  pro- 
cesses of  addition  and  subtraction,  and  the  denial 
that  philosophy  can  be  conversant  about  anything 
but  body  and  bodily  properties,  depend  on  each 
other,  but  are  both  errors.  Philosophy  as  universal 
science  has  a  right  to  extend  wherever  truth  is 
attainable  by  reason.  Is  spiritual  truth  attainable 
through  reason }  Hobbes  answered  that  it  was  not — 
that  only  truth  about  bodies  was  attainable.  This, 
however,  he  forgot  to  prove.  In  consequence  of 
assuming  it,  he  represented  man  as  capable  of  reli- 
gion only  through  inspiration,  tradition,  authority, 
apart  from  and  independent  of  reason,  which  knows 
not  and  cannot  know  God  truly.  Religion  is  thus  a 
thing  which  cannot  be  proved  true;  which  must  be 
accepted  on  some  other  ground  than  that  of  truth. 
Philosophy,  then,  according  to  Hobbes,  is  con- 

Materialism  in  England.  79 

versant  only  with  bodies  and  their  properties.*  It  [ 
is  the  sum  of  human  knowledge  so  far  as  reasoned 
about  bodies.  He  refers  all  thought  to  sensation, 
and  all  sensation  to  matter  and  motion,  sense 
being  simply  motion  in  the  organs  and  interior 
parts  of  man's  body,  caused  by  external  objects 
pressing  either  immediately  or  mediately  the  organ 
proper  to  each  sense.  The  pressure,  he  holds, 
when  continued  by  the  mediation  of  the  nerves, 
and  other  strings  and  membranes  of  the  body  to 
the  brain,  causes  there  a  resistance  or  counter- 
pressure  which,  because  outward,  seems  to  be 
some  matter  without,  and  consists  as  to  the  eye 
in  a  light  or  colour,  to  the  ear  in  a  sound,  to  the 
nostril  in  an  odour,  to  the  tongue  and  palate  in  a 
savour,  and  to  the  rest  of  the  body  in  heat,  cold, 
hardness,  softness,  and  such  other  qualities  as  we 
discern  by  feehng  ;  and  when  the  action  of  an 
object  is  continued  from  the  eyes,  ears,  and  other 
organs  to  the  heart,  the  real  effect  there  is  nothing 
but  motion  or  endeavour,  and  the  appearance  or 
sense  of  that  motion  is  delight  or  trouble  of  mind, 
pleasure  or  pain.  He  thus  resolves  mind  into  mat- 
ter, thought  and  feeling  into  mechanical  action. 

And  yet  Hobbes  was  not  the  sort  of  man  to 
make  a  mere  materialist.  The  materialist  must 
not  think.  If  he  think  he  will  ask  himself  what 
matter  is,  and  that  is  enough  to  break  the  sway 
of  matter.      Now    Hobbes   was   a    thinker.      He 

So  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

accordingly  put  to  himself  the  question,  What  is 
matter?  The  result  was,  that  he  found  matter 
in  the  materialist  sense  virtually  to  vanish.  He 
found  that  we  know  nothing  of  matter  in  itself; 
that  what  we  know  is  what  he  calls  "  the  seeming," 
"  the  apparition,"  "  the  phenomenon  ; "  that  colour 
is  just  what  is  seen,  sound  just  what  is  heard,  but 
not  inherent  qualities  of  objects  independent  of 
seeing  and  hearing  ;  that  the  matter  which  he 
supposed  to  cause  by  its  motions  in  our  senses 
these  and  other  perceptions  of  the  material  world 
we  cannot  see,  hear,  or  apprehend  by  any  sense. 
No  human  sense  has  ever  laid  hold  of  it,  or  can 
describe  a  single  quality  it  possesses.  It  is  some- 
thing utterly  mysterious  and  unknown.  Hobbes 
confessed  all  this.  What  right,  then,  had  he  to 
say  that  this  mysterious  matter  was  the  substance 
and  explanation  of  the  world  .''  None  at  all.  Nay, 
had  he  been  consistent  he  would  have  refused 
wholly  to  admit  its  existence.  He  would  have 
said  it  was  useless  and  unprovable.  He  would 
have  been  an  idealist. 

Besides,  while  Hobbes  excluded  religion  from 
the  sphere  of  what  can  be  proved,  he  accepted  it 
as  matter  of  faith.  He  severed  it  from  reason  to 
rest  it  on  authority.  And  in  thus  denying  theo- 
logy to  be  rational  knowledge  he  did  no  more 
than  Descartes  and  little  more  than  Bacon,  whose 
principles  did  not  so  logically  lead  to  this  issue  as 

Materialism  in  England.  8i 

his.  These  three  thinkers  all  referred  theology 
and  philosophy  to  entirely  distinct  sources.  They 
represented  the  one  as  having  nothing  to  do  with 
the  other ;  as  having  each  an  authority  of  its  own  ; 
as  having  each  a  province  in  which  for  the  other 
to  enter  is  an  act  of  usurpation.  They  drew  the 
sharpest  separation  between  reason  and  faith, 
philosophy  and  religion.  They  sought  to  save  the 
one  from  the  possibility  of  antagonism  with  the 
other,  by  describing  them  as  quite  unconnected  in 
their  principles,  processes,  and  character.  This 
was  a  reaction  from  the  scholastic  dogmatism 
which  had  ignored  their  real  distinctions  and  en- 
deavoured to  make  all  science  theological  and  all 
theology  strict  science.  Hobbes  professed  himself 
to  be  an  orthodox  English  Churchman.  We  have? 
certainly  no  warrant  to  charge  him  with  atheism. 

The  materialism  even  of  Hobbes  was  thus  in- 
complete. But  no  system  of  materialism  more 
complete  than  his  appeared  in  Great  Britian  until 
very  recent  times.  When  we  remember  the  moral 
condition  of  the  nation  from  the  restoration  of 
the  Stuart  dynasty  in  1660  to  the  close  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  how  low  the  general  tone  of 
spiritual  life  was  throughout  the  whole  period,  how 
corrupt  and  profligate  at  certain  dates,  we  can 
feel  no  surprise  that  numerous  works  were  pub- 
lished in  advocacy  of  materialistic  tenets.  The 
remarkable  fact   is   one  which    our   historians  of 


82  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

literature  and  philosophy  have  not  attempted  to 
explain — namely,  that  the  authors  of  none  of  these 
works  should  have  been  thorough  materialists.  He 
is,  of  course,  a  very  incomplete  materialist  who 
admits  the  necessity  of  a  God  to  account  for 
matter.  But  English  materialism  throughout  the 
whole  period  specified  was  of  this  timid  character. 
The  materialism  of  Coward  and  of  Dodwell,  of 
:  Hartley  and  of  Priestley,  was  limited  to  the  spirit- 
(j  uahty  of  the  soul.  What  materialism  there  was 
in  England  in  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth 
centuries,  it  must  be  added,  was  triumphantly 
answered.  The  refutations  of  materialism  were 
not  only  far  more  numerous  than  the  defences  of 
it,  but  also,  as  a  rule,  much  abler.  Cudworth  and 
More,  Newton  and  Boyle,  Clarke  and  Sherlock 
and  Butler,  headed  a  host  of  eminent  men  who 
took  the  field  on  the  right  side,  and  drove  the 
materialists  from  every  position  which  they  ven- 
tured to  take  up.  The  history  of  materialism  in 
England  is  the  reverse  of  brilliant. 

It  was  only  when  transplanted  from  England  to 
I  France,  in  the  generation  before  the  Revolution, 
\  that  materialism  grew  up  to  maturity.  A  variety 
of  causes  which  have  been  often  traced,  and  which 
it  is  unnecessary  in  this  rapid  survey  to  specify, 
had  there  prepared  a  soil  suitable  for  its  recep- 
tion. And  yet  comparatively  few  of  the  philoso- 
phers popular  in  that  sceptical   and   corrupt   age 

Materialism  in  France.  83 

had  the  hardihood  to  advocate  it  in  its  atheistical 
form.  Voltaire  despised  it  as  sheer  stupidity. 
Rousseau  hated  it  with  all  his  heart.  .Cpndillac 
argued  against  it  with  conviction  and  ability.  It 
was  only  after  he  had  drifted  through  various 
stages  of  deism  and  pantheism  that  Duierot  settled 
in  materialistic  atheism.  The  adherents  of  this 
system  did  not  become  numerous  until  close  on 
the  eve  of  the  Revolution.  The  men  of  this 
second  generation  who  devoted  themselves  to  its 
advocacy  were  fanatically  zealous  in  its  behalf;  but 
they  were  also  wholly  destitute  of  originality,  or 
even  ingenuity,  and  without  literary  talent  of  any 
kind.  Perhaps  the  best  representatives  of  French 
materialism  in  the  eighteenth  century  were  La 
Mettrje  andj/on  Holbach.^ 

The  physician  La  Mettrie,  in  his  '  Natural  His- 
tory of  the  SouT  (1745),  his  'Man  Machine' 
(1748),  and  other  works,  was  the  first  frankly 
to  declare  himself  a  materialist.  He  was  little 
thought  of  in  his  own  day  as  a  man,  a  physician, 
or  a  philosopher.  It  is  characteristic  of  ours,  how- 
ever, that  within  the  last  few  years  several  authors 
— Assezat  and  Quepat  in  France,  Lange  and  Du 
Bois-Reymond  in  Germany — should  have  tried  to 
rehabilitate  him,  as  it  is  called, —  to  prove  that  he 
was  a  most  excellent  person,  better  skilled  in 
medicine  than  the  rest  of  his   profession,  and   an 

1  See  Appendix  XL 

84  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

original  philosophical  genius.     I  confess,  I  think, 

they  could   not  have    been   less   profitably  occu- 

j  pied.     To  represent  La  Mettrie  as  either  a  man  of 

I  much  moral  worth  or  of  much  talent  is  to  falsify 


He  does  not  absolutely  deny  that  there  is  a 
God.  It  shows  the  mental  calibre  of  the  man 
that  he  should,  in  one  sentence,  say  that  it  is  very 
probable  there  may  be  a  God,  and  then,  in  those 
which  immediately  follow,  that  there  are  no  grounds 
for  believing  in  the  existence  of  God — that  even 
if  there  be  a  God,  there  is  no  need  for  us  to  have 
any  religion — and  that  it  is  foolish  to  trouble  our- 
selves as  to  whether  there  is  a  God  or  not.  In 
one  page  he  affirms  that  it  is  perfectly  indifferent 
to  our  happiness  whether  God  does  or  does  not 
exist,  and  a  few  pages  further  on  he  is  pleased  to 
inform  us  that  the  world  will  never  be  happy  till 
atheism  is  universal.  It  did  not  occur  to  him  that 
although  both  of  these  assertions  might  very  well 
be  false,  they  certainly  could  not  both  be  true. 
The  reason  which  he  gave  for  the  opinion  that  the 
world  could  not  be  happy  until  atheism  was  uni- 
versal was,  that  only  then  would  religious  wars 
and  strifes  cease.  Well,  of  course,  if  there  were 
no  religion  people  could  not  fight  about  it.  But, 
obviously,  they  might  still  fight  about  other  things, 
and  even  fight  about  them  more  frequently  and 
ignobly  than  they  do  at  present,  just  because  of 

Materialism  in  France.  85 

the  absence  of  religion.  Dogs  have  no  rch'gion, 
but  they  quarrel  over  a  bone.  Take  away  from 
man  all  interests  and  motives  higher  than  those 
of  a  beast,  and  you  do  not  thereby  secure  that 
he  will  be  peaceable  ;  on  the  contrary,  you  insure 
that  he  will  quarrel  as  a  beast  and  not  as  a  man. 

La  Mettrie  denies  that  there  is  much  difference 
between  man  and  beast.  He  thought  the  higher 
apes  more  closely  related  to  human  beings  than 
most  Darwinians  even  would  admit  them  to  be. 
He  was  anxious  that  they  should  be  learned  the 
use  of  language  by  Amman's  method  of  instruct- 
ing the  deaf  and  dumb,  and  hoped  that  mankind 
would  thus  receive  a  numerous  and  valuable  addi- 
tion to  their  ranks.  Any  superiority  which  he 
admitted  man  to  have  over  them  —  it  was  very 
little — he  attributed  wholly  to  the  better  organisa- 
tion of  his  brain  and  to  the  education  which  he 
received.  The  brain,  he  held,  was  the  soul — the 
part  of  the  body  which  thinks  —  a  part  endowed 
with  fibres  of  thinking,  just  as  the  legs  have 
muscles  of  motion.  Of  course,  death,  which  de- 
stroys the  rest  of  the  body,  destroys  the  brain — 
the  so-called  soul.  When  death  comes  the  farce 
of  human  life  is  played  out.  In  consistency  with 
these  views  he  represented  pleasure  —  sensuous 
pleasure — as  the  chief  end  of  life.  He  excused 
vices  on  the  ground  that  they  are  organic  diseases, 
and  that  man  cannot  control  himself.     He  jeers 

86  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

at  modesty  and  chastity,  at  love  and  friendship. 
He  is  often  coarse  and  cynical.  This  is  the  man 
who,  the  recent  writers  I  have  mentioned  com- 
plain, has  hitherto  not  had  justice  done  to  him. 
It  would  have  been  a  wiser  and  truer  charity  in 
them  if  they  had  left  his  memory  in  the  obscurity 
which  befits  it.^ 

Von  Holbach  was  a   German  baron   settled  in 
i  Paris — rich,  kind-hearted,  and  generous  ;  well  read, 
especially  in  physical  science ;    with  considerable 
intellect  of  a  heavy  kind  ; — the  very  centre,  how- 
j:   ever,   of    the    infidelity   collected    in   the    French 
[    capital,  as   he   kept   open   house,   and    gave    the 
'    philosophers  excellent  entertainment,  with  perfect 
freedom  to  ventilate  at  his  table  the  wildest  and 
profanest  of  their  theories.     He  was  undoubtedly 
the  chief  author  of  that  notorious  work  which  has 
I   been  called  the  Bible  of  atheistical  materialism— 
I    the  '  System  of  Nature.'    It  appeared  mviTSi^"^^ 
bore  two  falsehoods  on  its  title-page :  it  professed 
to  be  written  by  a  M.  de  Mirabaud,  a  deceased 
secretary  of  the  Academy,  who  had  had  nothing 
to  do  with  its  composition ;  and  it  professed  to  be 
published  at  London,  whereas  it  was  really  pub- 
lished  at   Amsterdam.     Its    style  is  at  once   de- 
clamatory and  dreary ;  but  it  has  qualities  which 
render   it    a   favourite    instrument   of    atheistical 
propagandism.     It  is  inspired  by  an  honest   fan- 

^  See  Appendix  XII. 

Materialism  in  France.  87 

aticism.  Its  author  is  always  terribly  in  earnest 
— sometimes,  it  must  be  confessed,  ludicrously  so. 
He  never  betrays  any  signs  of  want  of  confidence 
in  his  own  conclusions.  His  generalisations  are 
frequently  imposing.  His  argumentation  is  often 
not  wanting  in  acuteness,  subtilty,  or  plausibility. 
The  book  which  perplexed  for  a  time  the  mind 
of  Chalmers,  has,  doubtless,  fatally  perverted  the 
judgment  of  many  an  average  intellect. 

A  distinctive  feature  of  the  work  is  the  explicit- 
ness  with  which  the  idea  of  God  is  assailed — with 
which  His  existence  is  denied.  Epicurus  and 
Lucretius,  even,  in  spite  of  their  anxiety  to  throw 
off  the  yoke  of  religion,  did  not  refuse  to  believe 
that  there  were  gods,  but  only  that  they  acted 
on  the  world  or  were  interested  in  human  affairs. 
All  the  materialists  of  England  stopped  short  of 
a  denial  of  the  Divine  Existence.  La  Mettrie 
himself  affirmed  the  probability  of  the  Divine 
Existence,  although  he  proceeded  forthwith  to 
show  its  non  -  probability.  In  the  'System  of 
Nature'  there  is  no  compromise  or  indecision  on 
this  point.  The  denial  of  the  Divine  Existence  is 
open  and  absolute.  The  belief  in  His  existence 
is  directly,  vehemently,  elaborately  attacked.  The 
origin  of  religion  is  traced  to  fear,  ignorance,  and 
the  experience  of  misery,  and  described  as  ir- 
rational and  mischievous  in  all  its  forms.  The 
only  notion  of  God   which  is  not  absurd  is  held 

88  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

to  be  that  which  identifies  Him  with  the  moving 
power  in  nature.  Deism  is  rejected  as  untenable 
in  itself,  and  as  leading  to  superstition.  Atheism 
is  maintained  to  be  the  truth,  the  true  system,  the 
true  philosophy,  which  must  be  accepted  wherever 
nature  is  rightly  understood. 

This  truth,  Von  Holbach  seriously  assures  us, 
is  not  calculated  for  the  vulgar,  not  suitable  to  the 
great  mass  of  mankind.  "  Atheism,"  he  writes, 
"supposes  reflection;  requires  intense  study;  de- 
mands extensive  knowledge  ;  exacts  a  long  series 
of  experiences  ;  includes  the  habit  of  contemplat- 
ing nature  ;  the  faculty  of  observing  her  laws, 
which,  in  short,  embraces  the  comprehensive  study 
of  the  causes  producing  her  various  phenomena 
— her  multiplied  combinations,  together  with  the 
diversified  actions  of  the  beings  she  contains,  as 
well  as  their  numerous  properties.  In  order  to  be 
an  atheist,  or  to  be  assured  of  the  capabilities  of 
nature,  it  is  imperative  to  have  meditated  on  her 
profoundly  :  a  superficial  glance  of  the  eye  will  not 
bring  man  acquainted  with  her  resources  ;  optics 
but  little  practised  on  her  powers  will  be  unceas- 
ingly deceived  ;  the  ignorance  of  actual  causes  will 
always  induce  the  supposition  of  those  which  are 
imaginary  ;  credulity  will  thus  reconduct  the  natu- 
ral philosopher  himself  to  the  feet  of  superstitious 
phantoms,  in  which  either  his  limited  vision  or  his 
habitual  sloth  will  make  him  believe  he  shall  find 

Materialism  in  France.  89 

the  solution  of  every  difficulty."     While  Holbach 
was   writing   these    words    history    was    falsifying 
them  by  showing  that  atheism  was  a  creed  which 
the   vulgarest   of    the   vulgar   could    easily  learn. 
The  masses  whom  the  philosophers  despised  were 
overhearing    them,    and    finding    no    difficulty   in 
understanding  the  propositions,  There  is  no  God, 
There  is  no  soul,  There  is  nothing  in  the  universe 
which    may    not    be    resolved    into    matter    and 
motion.      These    propositions    have    never    been 
proved   by  any  one ;    but  the   stupidest   of  men 
may  understand  them  without  difficulty,  and  be- 
lieve them  and  act  on  them  to  his  own  ruin  and 
his   neighbours'    injury.     Our   atheistical    men    of 
science  need  not  suppose  that  atheistical  material- 
ism is  a  kind  of  wisdom  which  they  can  keep  to 
themselves,  so  that  it  will  not  get  into  the  posses- 
sion of  the  dangerous  classes,  who   may  make  a 
frightful  use  of  it.     The  dangerous  classes,  explain 
it  how  you  may,  are  just  those  who  have  always 
shown  a  special  aptitude  for  believing  it.       Hol- 
bach, to  do  him  justice,  although  he  thought  the 
masses  unqualified  to  understand  and  appreciate 
atheism,   did    not  wish   or  endeavour   to   conceal 
it  from   them  ;   on    the   contrary,  he  wished   and 
zealously   strove    to    propagate    it   among   them. 
The  result  amply  proved  that  the  task  was   not 
a  difficult  one. 

What   Holbach    substitutes  fgr   God    is   matter 

go  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

and  motion.  These  two,  he  holds,  are  inseparable. 
Matter  is  not  dead  but  essentially  active.  Obser- 
vation and  reflection,  he  says,  ought  to  convince 
us  that  everything  in  nature  is  in  continual  mo- 
tion ;  that  there  is  not  one  of  its  parts,  however 
minute,  that  enjoys  true  repose ;  that  nature  acts 
in  all;  that  she  would  cease  to  be  nature  if  she 
did  not  act  To  the  obvious  question,  Whence 
did  nature  receive  her  motion  t  he  answers,  "  We 
do  not  know,  neither  do  you  ;  we  never  shall,  you 
never  will."  It  is  a  most  unreasonable  answer  to 
a  most  reasonable  question.  Those  who  put  the 
question  are  men  who  offer  reasons  for  believing 
that  the  materials  and  the  motions  of  the  universe 
are  so  fashioned,  combined,  and  arranged  as  to 
point  back  to  a  true  and  intelligent  cause ;  and 
no  one  can  have  a  right  to  set  aside  their  reasons 
by  merely  asserting  that  it  can  never  be  known 
whence  motion  comes.  The  contention  of  the 
theist  is,  that  it  may  be  perfectly  well  known  that 
both  matter  and  motion  come  from  a  Supreme 
and  Intelligent  Will.  Further,  to  affirm  that 
matter  moves  of  its  own  peculiar  energies — that 
it  is  essentially  active  and  alive — is  contrary  to  a 
truth  which  all  experience  confirms,  and  on  which 
all  physical  and  mechanical  calculations  are  based, 
— namely,  that  matter  moves  only  as  it  is  moved 
— that  if  not  acted  on  it  will  never  move — and 
that  if  once  set  in  motion  it  will  only  cease  mov- 

Matei'ialisvi  in  France.  91 

ing  through  being  resisted.  He  who  believes  in 
the  activity  of  matter  must  abandon  beHef  in  its 
inertia.  Like  all  materialists,  Holbach  had  to 
ascribe  to  matter  more  than  he  had  right  to  do, 
in  order  to  be  able  to  deduce  the  more  from  it. 
This  is  also  to  be  observed,  that  Holbach's  heart 
had  at  least  as  much  to  do  as  his  head  with  ascrib- 
ing activity  and  life  to  nature.  It  craved  for  more 
than  a  merely  material  universe.  It  had  affections 
and  aspirations  which  could  only  have  been  satis- 
fied by  a  very  different  answer  to  the  problem  of 
existence  than  that  which  materialism  had  to  offer, 
and  although  they  never  were  satisfied  they  exert- 
ed some  influence.  Speculative  atheist  although 
he  was,  Holbach  unconsciously  felt  the  need  of 
having  a  being  to  worship.  He  denied  nature's 
God,  but  the  soul  within  him  worked  throucfh  his 
imagination,  and  transformed  nature  until  he  could 
adore  it  as  his  god.  All  through  his  book  he  is 
ever  and  again  vindicating,  glorifying,  and  invok- 
ing nature  as  a  kind  of  deity.  What  is  this,  for 
example,  but  prayer  to  nature  as  to  a  god,  but 
worship  of  an  unenlightened  and  inconsistent 
kind  t  "  O  nature,  sovereign  of  all  beings !  and 
ye,  her  adorable  daughters,  virtue,  reason,  and 
truth  !  remain  for  ever  our  revered  protectors  :  it 
is  to  you  that  belong  the  praises  of  the  human 
race  ;  to  you  appertains  the  homage  of  the  earth. 
Show  us  then,  O  nature,  that  which   man   ought 

92  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

to  do  in  order  to  obtain  the  happiness  which  thou 
makest  him  desire.  Banish  error  from  our  mind, 
wickedness  from  our  hearts,  confusion  from  our 
footsteps ;  cause  knowledge  to  extend  its  benig- 
nant reign,  goodness  to  occupy  our  souls,  serenity 
to  dwell  in  our  bosoms." 

There  are  numerous  passages  of  this  character 
in  the  '  System  of  Nature.'  Sometimes  even  a 
better  genius  than  his  own  familiar  spirit  takes 
possession  of  its  author,  and  causes  him  utterly  to 
forget  that  he  is  the  avowed  enemy  of  theism,  and 
a  believer  only  in  matter  and  motion.  Witness  a 
passage  like  the  following,  which  is  in  direct  con- 
tradiction to  the  atheism  he  usually  and  explicitly 
inculcates  :  ''  The  great  Cause  of  causes  must 
have  produced  everything ;  but  is  it  not  lessening 
the  true  dignity  of  the  Divinity  to  introduce  Him 
as  interfering  in  every  operation  of  nature — nay, 
in  every  action  of  so  insignificant  a  creature  as 
man, — as  a  mere  agent,  executing  His  own  eternal, 
immutable  laws;  when  experience,  when  reflec- 
tion, when  the  evidence  of  all  we  contemplate, 
warrants  the  idea  that  this  ineffable  Being  has  ren- 
dered nature  competent  to  every  effect,  by  giving 
her  those  irrevocable  laws,  that  eternal,  unchange- 
able system,  according  to  which  all  the  beings 
she  sustains  must  eternally  act }  Is  it  not  more 
worthy  of  the  exalted  mind  of  the  Great  Parent 
of  parents,  ens  entium,  more  consistent  with  truth, 

Materialism  in  France,  93 

to  suppose  that  His  wisdom,  in  giving  these  im- 
mutable, these  eternal  laws  to  the  macrocosm, 
foresaw  everything  that  could  possibly  be  re- 
quisite for  the  happiness  of  the  beings  contained 
in  it ;  that,  therefore,  He  left  it  to  the  invariable 
operation  of  a  system,  which  never  can  produce 
any  effect  that  is  not  the  best  possible  that  cir- 
cumstances, however  viewed,  will  admit  ?  " 

In  the  work  under  consideration,  order  and  con- 
fusion are  maintained  to  have  no  existence  in 
nature  itself  All  is  necessarily  in  order,  we  are 
told,  since  everything  acts  and  moves  according 
to  constant  and  invariable  laws ;  confusion  is 
consequently  impossible.  But  as  it  is  at  the 
same  time  admitted  that  a  series  of  motions  or 
actions,  although  necessitated,  may  or  may  not 
conspire  to  one  common  end,  and  as  coexistent 
individuals  of  any  kind  may  either  promote  or 
oppose  the  development  of  one  another,  the 
reality  both  of  order  and  confusion  is  actually 
granted  while  professedly  denied.  That  a  child 
should  be  born  without  eyes  or  legs  is  as  much 
an  effect  of  natural  causes  as  that  it  should  be 
born  with  them;  but  seeing  that  eyes  and  legs 
are  really  useful  to  human  beings,  and  not  merely 
supposed  by  them  to  be  useful,  the  possession 
or  want  of  eyes  and  legs  may  be  characterised 
with  the  strictest  propriety  as  an  example  of 
order  or  confusion.       In    like  manner,  theft  and 

94  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

murder,  whatever  their  motives  or  the  character 
of  their  causation,  are  instances  of  real  disorder 
in  the  moral  world,  because  violations  of  a  law 
which  is  not  created  by  any  thoughts  or  imag- 
inations of  ours.  There  is  a  plain  distinction 
between  causation  and  fitness,  and  the  latter  is 
as  really  in  nature  as  the  former. 

Man,  according  to  Holbach,  is  entirely  material. 
Immateriality  and  spirituality  he  pronounces  to 
be  meaningless  words.  The  mental  faculties  he 
represents  as  only  determinate  manners  of  act- 
ing which  result  from  the  peculiar  organisation 
of  the  body ;  feeling,  thought,  and  will,  as  only 
modifications  of  the  nerves  and  brain.  He  re- 
iterates and  amplifies  these  assertions,  but  he 
does  not  prove  them  ;  and,  indeed,  they  are  ob- 
viously not  only  erroneous  but  nonsensical.  The 
brain  is  a  thing  which  can  be  examined  by  sight 
and  other  senses ;  its  minutest  changes  might  be 
traced  by  an  eye  of  sufhcient  strength,  or  by  an 
ordinary  eye  assisted  by  a  sufficiently  powerful 
microscope;  but  a  thought,  a  feeling,  a  volition 
cannot  even  be  conceived  as  perceived  by  the 
sight  or  any  sense.  When  a  man  describes  any 
state  of  consciousness  as  a  modification  of  the 
brain,  or  of  any  part  of  the  body,  he  uses  lan- 
guage to  which  no  meaning  can  be  attached. 

Holbach,  believing  that  there  is   no   God,  and 
that  all  that  is  called  spirit  in   man  is  merely  a 

Materialism  in  France.  95 

modification  of  the  body,  naturally  denies  both 
immortality  and  freewill.  The  belief  in  a  future 
life  is  represented  as  a  dream,  a  delusion.  The 
grave  is  supposed  to  receive  into  it  the  whole 
man.  Free  agency  is  regarded  as  a  mere  fiction. 
''  Man's  life,"  we  are  told,  "  is  a  line  drawn  by 
nature  from  which  he  cannot  swerve  even  for  an 
instant.  He  is  born  without  his  own  consent ; 
his  organisation  in  no  wise  depends  upon  him- 
self; his  ideas  come  to  him  involuntarily;  his 
habits  are  in  the  power  of  those  who  cause  him' 
to  contract  them ;  he  is  unceasingly  modified  by 
causes,  whether  visible  or  concealed,  over  which 
he  has  no  control,  and  which  necessarily  deter- 
mine his  way  of  thinking  and  manner  of  acting. 
He  is  good  or  bad,  happy  or  miserable,  wise  or 
foolish,  rational  or  irrational,  without  his  will  go- 
ing for  anything  in  these  various  states." 

There  is  thus,  according  to  Holbach,  no  God, 
no  soul,  no  future  life,  no  freewill.  Many  will 
think  that  from  these  premises  he  should  have 
drawn  the  conclusion,  there  is  no  morality.  He 
did  not  quite  do  that,  for  the  man  was  greatly 
better  than  his  system ;  but,  of  course,  he  could 
not  inculcate  a  pure  or  high  morality.  He  could 
only  rest  duty  on  self-interest.  He  could  only 
recommend  virtue  as  a  means  to  each  man's 
happiness.  "  Disinterested,"  he  tells  us,  "  is  a 
term    only    applied   to    those    of    whose    motives 

96  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

we  are  ignorant,  or  whose  interest  we  approve," 
and  "  virtue  is  only  the  art  of  rendering  one's  self 
happy  by  the  felicity  of  others."  It  would  be 
unjust  and  ungenerous  to  deny  that  he  recom- 
mended the  various  personal  and  social  virtues 
with  warmth,  and  in  the  accents  of  sincerity;  but 
it  was  on  grounds  which  can  be  naturally  and 
readily  employed  to  excuse  vice.^ 

The  moral  principles  advocated  by  La  Mettrie 
and  Holbach  were  not  peculiar  to  them.  Hel- 
vetius,  Saint  Lambert,  Morelly,  and  a  host  of 
other  writers,  likewise  inculcated  a  more  or  less 
refined  selfishness,  as  the  sole  sure  basis  both  of 
ethical  theory  and  ethical  life.  They  could  not 
consistently  do  anything  else.  Materialism  and 
sensationalism  can  provide  no  other  basis  for 
morality  than  self-love.  But  on  such  a  basis 
morality  can  never  either  rise  high  or  stand 
firm.  The  nation  whose  life  rests  on  so  crum- 
bling a  corner-stone  is  on  the  eve  of  a  catastrophe. 
This  was  exemplified  in  the  case  of  France.  It 
would  be  incorrect,  I  believe,  to  say  that  the 
sceptics  and  atheists  of  that  country  caused,  with 
their  false  and  pernicious  principles,  either  the 
Revolution  or  the  horrors  which  accompanied  it. 
The  corrupt  and  disorganised  state  of  society  at 
that  time  contributed  to  form  scepticism  and 
atheism    not   less   than    scepticism    and    atheism 

^  See  Appendix  XIII. 

Materialism  in  France.  gy 

contributed  to  deteriorate  society.  There  was 
action  and  reaction.  The  atheism  of  the  epoch 
was  as  much  the  effect  as  the  cause  of  its  cor- 
ruption. It  was,  certainly,  not  wholly  either  the 
effect  or  the  cause,  but  was  partly  both.  Further, 
the  enormous  and  bewildering  mass  of  events  and 
declarations  called  the  French  Revolution  need 
not  be  pronounced  either  wholly  or  mainly  evil, 
nor  need  the  sceptical  philosophers  be  denied  to 
have  been  largely  instrumental  in  diffusing  salu- 
tary truths  as  well  as  pernicious  errors.  We  may 
give  all  due  justice  to  the  Revolution  and  its 
authors  and  yet  hold  that  its  worst  features  were 
the  natural  expressions  of  the  materialistic  and 
atheistic  views,  and  the  selfish  and  sensuous  prin- 
ciples prevalent  in  the  generation  which  accom- 
plished it,  and  in  the  generation  which  preceded 
it.  When  God  w^as  decreed  a  non  -  entity  and 
death  an  eternal  sleep,  when  divine  worship  was 
abolished  and  marriage  superseded,  the  rights  of 
property  disregarded,  and  life  lavishly  and  wan- 
tonly sacrificed,  the  atheistical  materialism  of  La 
Mettrie  and  Von  Holbach  was  seen  bearing  its 
appropriate  poisonous  fruit.  If  you  convince  men 
that  in  nature  and  destiny  they  are  not  essentially 
different  from  the  beasts  that  perish,  it  may  well 
be  feared  that  they  will  live  and  act  as  beasts, 
casting  off,  as  far  as  they  can,  all  the  restraints 
imposed    by    human    and    divine    institutions,    all 


98  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

the   bonds   of  the  family,  the    Church,    and    the 

While  materiahsm  contributed  in  a  considerable 
measure  to  bring  about  the  Revolution,  the  Revo- 
lution did  little  to  diffuse  materialism  and  much 
to  discredit  it.  A  reaction  set  in.  A  vast  intellec- 
tual and  moral  change,  the  causes  of  which  have 
not  yet,  perhaps,  been  adequately  traced,  came 
over  the  European  mind.  Religion,  poetry,  litera- 
ture, science,  philosophy,  were  all  permeated  and 
quickened  by  a  new  and  deeper  spirit.  The  con- 
sequence was  that  materialism  lost  its  hold  on 
men's  minds  and  sank  into  general  contempt. 
The  generation  that  admired  Goethe  and  Schiller, 
Wordsworth  and  Coleridge,  Fichte,  Schelling, 
Hegel,  Cousin,  Hamilton,  could  only  wonder  that 
a  theory  so  poor  and  shallow  as  materialism  had 
ever  exerted  a  wide  and  powerful  influence.  It 
seemed  as  if  its  day  were  past ;  as  if  it  could 
never  return,  except,  perhaps,  in  some  very 
subtle  and  refined  form. 

But  it  is  not  to  be  hoped  that  materialism  will 
ever  quite  be  got  rid  of,  so  long  as  the  constitution 
of  the  human  mind  and  the  character  of  human 
society  remain  substantially  what  they  are.  Physi- 
cal nature  and  its  laws  explain  much,  and  so  long 
as  the  human  mind  is  prone  to  exaggeration,  and 
education  is  imperfect  and  one-sided,  and  society 
is  more  under  the  influence  of  the  seen  than  the 

Prevalence  at  Present  of  Materialism.         99 

unseen,  of  the  temporal  than  the  eternal,  it  may  be 
anticipated  that  many  will  fancy  that  matter  and 
motion  explain  everything — and  this  fancy  is  the 
essence   of   materialism.      Thus   materialism   is  a 
danger    to   which   individuals    and    societies   will 
always  be   more  or  less   exposed.      The  present 
generation,  however,  and  especially  the  generation 
which  is  growing  up,  will  obviously  be  very  speci- 
ally exposed  to  it ;  as  much  so,  perhaps,  as  any 
generation  in  the  history  of  the  world.      Within 
the  last  thirty  years  the  great  wave  of  spiritualistic 
or  idealistic  thought,  which  has  borne  to  us  on  its 
bosom  most  of  what  is  of  chief  value  in  the  nine- 
teenth century,  has  been  receding  and  decreasing  ; 
and  another,  which  is  in  the  main  driven  by  ma- 
terialistic forces,  has  been  gradually  rising  behind 
it,  vast  and  threatening.     It  is  but  its  crests  that 
we  at  present  see ;  it  is  but  a  certain  vague  shak- 
ing produced  by  it  that  we  at  present  feel ;  but  we 
shall  probably  soon  enough  fail  not  both  to   see 
and  feel  it  fully  and  distinctly.     Materialism  has 
gained  to  itself  a  lamentably  large  proportion  of 
the  chiefs  of  contemporary  science,  and   it  finds 
in  them  advocates  as  outspoken  and  enthusiastic 
as  were  Lucretius  and  Holbach.     Multitudes  are 
disposed  to  listen  and  believe  with  an  uninquir- 
ing  and  irrational  faith.     Materialism — atheistical 
materialism — may  at  no  distant  date,  unless  earn- 
estly and   wisely  opposed,   be    strong  enough   to 


100  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

undertake   to   alter   all   our   institutions,    and    to 
abolish  those  which  it  dislikes. 

How  is  it  that  materialism  has  reappeared  in 
such  force  ?  The  following  considerations  may 
yield  a  partial  answer.  In  the  first  place,  the 
materialism  of  the  eighteenth  century  has  actu- 
ally descended  to,  or  been  inherited  by,  the  pres- 
ent generation.  Although  for  a  considerable  time 
materialism  was  feeble  and  unpopular,  it  was  never 
wholly  without  defenders.  The  continuity  of  its 
history  was  at  no  point  completely  broken.  In 
England,  for  example,  three  generations  of  Dar- 
wins  have  entertained  materialistic  convictions. 
Works  like  Thomas  Hope's  '  Essay  on  the  Origin 
and  Progress  of  Man,'  and  the  anonymous 'Ves- 
tiges of  Creation,'  connect  the  '  Zoonomia '  of 
Erasmus  Darwin  with  the  '  Origin  of  Species '  of 
Charles  Darwin.  The  principles  of  sensational- 
ism found  not  a  few  zealous  defenders  when  the 
antagonistic  doctrine  was  at  the  height  of  its  suc- 
cess, and  sensationalism  is  intimately  related  to 
materialism.  About  1840  atheism  began  to  be 
openly  avowed  to  a  considerable  extent  among 
the  working  classes,  and  what  has  since  been 
called  secularism  made  its  appearance.  Secular- 
ism involves  materialism.  In  1851  Mr  Henry  G. 
Atkinson  and  Miss  Harriet  Martineau  published 
their  *  Letters  on  the  Laws  of  Man's  Nature  and 
Development,'  advocating  without  reservation   or 

Causes  of  Conteinpoi^ary  Materialism.        loi 

restraint  a  crude  materialism  and  utter  atheism. 
They  taught  that  "philosophy  finds  no  God  in 
nature,  nor  sees  the  want  of  any;"  that  "fitness 
in  nature  is  no  evidence  of  design ; "  that  "  all 
causes  are  material  causes  influenced  by  surround- 
ing circumstances  ;  "  that  "  mind  is  the  manifesta- 
tion or  expression  of  the  brain  in  action  ; "  that 
"  instinct,  passion,  thought,  are  effects  of  organised 
substances ; "  that  "  only  ignorance  conceives  the 
will  to  be  free ; "  that  "  there  is  no  more  sin  in  a 
crooked  disposition  than  in  a  crooked  stick  in  the 
water,  or  in  a  hump-back  or  a  squint ;  "  and  that 
"  we  ought  to  be  content  that  in  death  the  lease 
of  personality  shall  pass  away,  and  that  we  shall 
be  as  we  were  before  we  were — in  a  sleep  for 
evermore."  It  was  no  wonder  that  England  was 
shocked  to  be  asked  in  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth 
century  to  receive  this  old  and  sad  story  as  good 
news  of  great  joy.  But  in  the  years  which  have 
since  elapsed  a  host  of  compositions  have  appeared 
avowing  quite  as  nakedly  disbelief  in  God,  spirit- 
freedom,  responsibility,  and  belief  only  in  the  pro- 
perties and  products  of  matter.^ 

Materialism  was  still  more  influential  in  France 
than  in  England  throughout  the  first  half  of  the 
present  century.  What  little  philosophy  there 
was  under  the  revolutionary  governments  and 
the  Empire  proceeded  mainly  on  sensationalistic 

^  See  Appendix  XIV. 

102  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

or  materialistic  principles.  Cabanis,  De  Tracy, 
Volney,  Garat,  Broussais,  Azais,  adhered  essen- 
tially to  the  popular  philosophical  creed  of  the 
eighteenth  century.  Other  systems  of  thought  in 
process  of  time  appeared  and  gained  a  temporary 
supremacy.  The  theocratic  and  eclectic  theories, 
in  particular,  had  for  a  season  the  most  brilliant 
success,  and  both  were  hostile  to  materialism  in 
all  its  forms.  Alongside  of  them,  however,  arose 
and  spread  the  socialistic  doctrines  and  schools, 
which  all  favoured  more  or  less  both  theoretical 
and  ethical  materialism.  The  rehabilitation  of 
the  flesh — the  subordination  of  everything  in  man 
to  his  stomach  and  senses — was  the  common  aim 
of  the  socialistic  schemes  for  the  improvement  of 
humanity.  Even  when  the  existence  of  God  was 
not  denied,  as  in  the  system  of  Fourier,  duty 
was  dethroned  and  sensuous  desire  raised  into 
the  vacant  throne.  The  condemnation  of  social- 
ism is  that  it  has  shown  itself  blind  to  spiritual 
and  open-eyed  to  material  interests.  M.  Emile 
de  Girardin  expressed  clearly  and  pointedly,  not 
merely  his  own  faith,  but  that  of  the  vast  majority 
of  his  socialistic  countrymen,  when  he  laid  down 
as  established  truths — 

"  That  God  has  no  existence  ;  or  that  if  He  exists,  it  is  im- 
possible for  man  to  demonstrate  the  fact. 
That  the  world  exists'of  itself,  and  of  itself  solely. 
That  man  has  no  original  sin  to  ransom. 

Causes  of  Contemporary  Materialism.       103 

That  he  bears  about  him  memory  and  reason,  as  flame 
bears  with  it  heat  and  light. 

That  he  lives  again  in  the  flesh  only  in  the  child  that  he 

That  he  survives  intellectually  only  in  the  idea  or  the  deed 
by  which  he  immortalises  himself. 

That  he  has  no  ground  for  expecting  to  receive  in  a  future 
life  a  recompense  or  punishment  for  his  present  con- 

That  morally  good  and  ill  do  not  exist  substantially,  abso- 
lutely, incontestably,  by  themselves;  that  they  exist  only 
nominally,  relatively,  arbitrarily. 

That,  in  fact,  there  only  exist  risks,  against  which  man, 
obeying  the  law  of  self-preservation  within  him,  and 
giving  law  to  matter,  seeks  to  insure  himself  by  the 
means  at  his  command." 

The  principles  of  materialism  in  combination  with 
socialism  have  been  widely  taught  in  France  for 
about  half  a  century.  The  creed  of  the  Commune 
of  Paris  had  been  a  prevalent  and  uninterrupted 
tradition  among  certain  classes  during  that  length 
of  time. 

It  may  be  remarked,  in  the  second  place,  that 
idealism  Itself  led  to  materialism.  This  was  espe- 
cially the  case  in  Germany,  where  Idealism  had  for 
a  considerable  time  the  field  almost  entirely  to 
itself  Fichte,  Schelling,  Hegel,  reigned  in  succes- 
sion. The  sway  of  the  last  was  for  a  time  very 
widely  and  humbly  acknowledged.  It  seemed  as 
if  he  had  founded  an  empire  which  would  last — 
as  If  absolute  idealism  had  been  demonstrated  to 

104  Anti-TJieistic  TJicories. 

be  the  definitive  philosophy.  But  he  had  not  been 
dead  eight  years  before  his  empire  was  divided 
into  three  conflicting  kingdoms,  his  disciples  into 
three  schools,  of  which  one  was  theistic,  another 
pantheistic,  and  the  third  atheistic.  In  that  short 
period  a  number  of  his  disciples  had  found,  or 
fancied  that  they  found,  that  absolute  idealism 
was  little  else  than  another  name  for  material- 
ism. Michelet  and  Strauss,  while  adhering  to 
the  distinction  between  idea  and  nature,  logic 
and  physics,  contended  that  God  is  personal  only 
in  man,  and  the  soul  immortal  only  in  God,  mean- 
ing thereby  that  God  as  God  is  not  personal,  and 
real  souls  not  immortal.  Feuerbach,  Bruno  Bauer, 
Max  Stirner,  Arnold  Ruge,  reduced  the  idea  to 
mere  nature  and  returned  to  naked  atheism.  With 
a  strange  fanatical  sincerity  they  preached  that 
the  universal  being  of  humanity,  or  the  individual 
man  or  nature,  was  the  sole  object  of  supreme 

In  another  way  idealism  occasioned  materialism. 
Its  excesses  under  the  manipulation  of  Fichte, 
Schelling,  Hegel,  and  their  followers,  provoked  a 
reaction  in  favour  of  empiricism.  Speculation  by 
its  audacity,  combined  with  weakness  and  wordi- 
ness, excited  aversion.  Men  whose  hopes  had  been 
so  often  deceived  by  ideas,  resolved  to  put  con- 
fidence only  in  facts.  They  determined  to  build 
entirely  on  the  data  of  the  senses,  and  to  follow 

Causes  of  Contemporary  Materialism.        105 

exclusively  the  guidance  of  the  physical  sciences. 
If  they  had  done  this  they  would  necessarily  have 
been  silent  about  God,  the  soul,  the  moral  law,  the 
destiny  of  man,  for  these  are  subjects  on  which 
mere  sense  and  physical  science  have  nothing  to 
say.  At  the  same  time,  they  are  subjects  on  which 
man  as  a  rational  and  moral  being  cannot  help 
reflecting.  The  consequence  in  Germany  was,  that 
many  persons  took  to  judging  of  them  from  the 
merely  physical  science  point  of  view.  In  the  name 
of  this  or  that  mechanical  or  biological  generalisa- 
tion, they  hastened  to  inform  the  public  that  there 
could  be  no  God,  no  soul,  no  freedom,  &c.  Moles-  ,' 
chott,  Vogt,  Buchner,  were  in  the  van  of  this  new  ' 
movement,  which  is  sometimes  called  scientific 
materialism.  As  all  the  world  knows,  it  has  had 
extraordinary  success. 

The  chief  reason,  I  remark  in  the  third  place,  of 
the  prevalence  of  the  so-called  scientific  material- 
ism has  been  the  rapid  and  brilliant  progress  in 
recent  times  of  the  physical,  and  especially  of  the 
biological  sciences.  All  the  sciences  of  material 
nature — astronomy,  natural  philosophy,  chemistry, 
geology,  physiology,  natural  history,  &c.  — have 
been  within  the  lifetime  of  the  present  generation 
wonderfully  enriched  with  discoveries  of  facts  and 
laws,  and  signally  productive  of  inventions  which 
have  increased  human  wealth,  comfort,  and  power. 
The  mental,  moral,  and  theoWIcal  sciences  have 

io6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

not  advanced  with  anything  hke  the  same  speed ; 
they  can  point  to  no  similar  harvest  of  indisputable 
and  benignant  results  ;  if  they  have  made  any  con- 
quests, these  have  necessarily  not  been  of  a  kind  to 
dazzle  the  eye  and  impress  the  imagination.  It 
is  not  surprising,  therefore,  that  physical  science 
should  have  attracted  general  and  engrossing  at- 
tention ;  that  it  should  to  a  large  extent  have  been 
cultivated  and  appreciated  in  a  one-sided  manner; 
that  what  had  been  seen  to  do  so  much  should 
by  many  have  been  fancied  to  possess  unlimited 
powers.  But  this  is  equivalent  to  saying  that  it 
is  not  surprising  that  many  scientific  men  should 
have  become  materialists,  and  should  have  imagined 
their  materialism  due  to  their  science,  although 
really  due  to  their  ignorance. 

The  mere  study  of  physical  nature  does  not 
carry  us  beyond  matter  and  its  processes.  ,Its 
most  elaborate  methods  can  give  us  no  apprehen- 
sion of  God,  or  soul,  or  moral  sense.  So  far  as 
mere  physical  science  can  discern,  "  if  God  had 
slept  a  million  years,  all  things  would  be  the 
same."  No  telescope  or  microscope  can  enable  us 
to  detect  freewill  or  any  other  attribute  of  mind. 
Physical  science  can  only  tell  us  of  physical  ob- 
jects, physical  properties,  and  physical  laws.  If 
no  other  voice  is  to  be  heard,  no  other  witness  to 
be  called,  the  verdict  of  reason  must  necessarily  be 
that  materialism  is  true. 

Causes  of  Cov.tcmporary  Materialism.       1 07 

The  recent  progress  of  the  biological  sciences, 
and  the  great  popularity  which  they  enjoy,  are 
also  very  noteworthy  circumstances  in  this  con- 
nection. The  least  observant  minds  can  hardly 
fail  to  have  been  struck  with  the  remarkable  man- 
ner in  which  these  sciences  have  come  to  the  front 
during  the  last  twenty  or  thirty  years.  It  would  be 
easy  to  indicate  the  causes  of  this,  but  it  is  its 
consequences  which  concern  us.  Materialism  has 
clearly  gained  by  it  in  more  ways  than  one.  Nat- 
uralists and  physiologists  are  more  apt,  perhaps, 
to  become  materialists  than  natural  philosophers, 
because  it  is  possible  for  the  former  to  be  greatly 
distinguished  in  their  vocations  without  requiring 
ever  seriously  to  ask  what  matter  is,  but  hardly 
for  the  latter,  who  have  to  deal  with  it  in  its  more 
general  and  essential  nature.  The  natural  philo- 
sopher may  denounce  as  metaphysics  the  question. 
What  is  matter  }  but  he  is  not  only  always  trying 
to  answer  the  question,  but  his  answer,  as  a  rule, 
comes  so  near  that  of  the  metaphysician,  that  he 
is  rarely  a  materialist.  It  is  in  the  form  of  ex- 
aggerations of  the  influence  of  physical  agencies, 
and  of  physiological  qualities,  that  materialism  is 
generally  made  use  of  as  a  principle  of  scientific 
explanation  ;  and  this  is  done  by  those  whose 
studies  are  least  fitted  to  disclose  to  them  what 
the  natural  philosopher,  and  still  more,  the  specu- 
lative thinker,  are  perfectly  aware   of,  that  much 

io8  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

more  can  be  said  for  a  mathematical  theory  of 
matter  or  a  mental  theory  of  matter,  than  for  a 
material  theory  of  mind  and  history. 

The  advance  of  science  into  the  various  pro- 
vinces of  the  organic  world  has  favoured  material- 
ism still  more  by  its  influence  on  the  character 
of  the  scientific  spirit.  Regions  have  now  been 
entered,  where  to  proceed  rigidly,  according  to  the 
rules  either  of  deduction  or  induction,  is  as  yet 
often  impossible  ;  where  not  a  step  can  be  taken 
which  is  not  conjectural  and  venturesome  ;  where 
at  every  turn  a  host  of  hypotheses  must  be  devised 
and  tested.  What  an  enormous  number  of  hypo- 
theses have  been  suggested  and  associated  with 
the  Darwinian  doctrine  of  development,  itself  still 
a  hypothesis !  This  state  of  things  is  inevitable, 
but  none  the  less  is  there  a  serious  danger  in  it. 
Men  of  science  are  not  unlikely  in  such  circum- 
stances to  forget  v/hat  the  demands  of  scientific 
method  really  are,  and  to  allow  the  plausible  often 
to  pass  for  the  probable,  and  the  probable  for  the 
proved.  What  may  be  called  the  scientific  con- 
science, or,  at  least,  scientific  conscientiousness, 
runs  a  serious  risk  of  loss  and  injury.  The  risk 
has,  I  fear,  already  largely  passed  into  reality.  Is 
it  not  painfully  obvious  that  a  large  number  of 
those  who  profess  to  give  us  scientific  instruction 
in  biology,  ethnology,  sociology,  &c.,  have  the  very 
vaguest  views  of  what  proof  is  ?     Is  there  not  a 

Causes  of  Contemporary  Materialism.       109 

very  large  increase  of  men,  esteemed  scientific,  who 
cannot  distinguish  a  process  of  imagination  from 
one  of  induction  ?  Is  there  not  rapidly  rising  up 
a  pseudo-scientific  school  of  savants  whose  notions 
of  evidence  are  essentially  different  from  those  of 
the  older  type  of  scientific  man  represented  by 
a  Herschell  or  Faraday,  a  Brewster,  Forbes,  or 
Thomson  ?  It  seems  to  me  that  these  questions 
must  be  answered  in  the  affirmative  ;  and  that  it 
is  almost  exclusively  from  the  new  school — the 
school  which  draws  its  resources  largely  from  im- 
agination— that  the  ranks  of  the  so-called  scientific 
materialism  of  our  day  are  recruited. 

Such  causes  of  the  spread  of  materialism  as  the 
following  might  also  be  dwelt  upon,  but  it  must 
suffice  simply  to  mention  them,  ici)  Political  and 
social  dissatisfaction.  In  some  countries  and  in 
certain  classes  this  has  been  a  most  powerful  cause. 
In  proof,  I  need  only  refer  to  secularism  in  Eng- 
land and  to  socialism  in  France  and  Germany. 
{b)  The  growth  of  rationalism  and  of  aversion  to 
the  supernatural.  Materialism  is  the  natural  and 
logical  culmination  of  this  movement.  It  is  only  in 
and  through  materialism  that  the  elimination  of 
everything  supernatural  can  be  reached,  {c)  The 
predominance  of  material  interests, — of  the  mer- 
cantile spirit, — of  the  love  of  wealth,  worldly  dis- 
play, and  pleasure.  The  life  determines  theory 
even  more  than  theory  influences  life. 

no  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

Materialism,  it  must  be  added,  has  another 
class  of  causes.  It  has  all  the  reasons  which  it 
can  urge  on  its  own  behalf.  It  would  be  unfair, 
at  this  stage,  to  insinuate  that  these  are  either 
few  or  feeble.  We  shall  examine  them  in  next 

The  A  rguvient  for  Materialism.  1 1 1 



Materialism  as  a  reasoned  theory  of  the  uni- 
verse,— materialism  as  a  philosophy, — is  more  than 
two  thousand  years  old.  During  that  long  period 
it  has  had  various  fates  and  fortunes.  It  has  at 
one  time  ebbed,  and  at  another  flowed  ;  it  has 
suffered  many  checks  and  defeats,  and  has  also 
enjoyed  many  successes  and  triumphs.  It  has 
never  been  more  than  partially  and  temporarily 
vanquished  ;  it  has  sometimes  seemed  as  if  it 
would  carry  all  before  it,  and  leave  no  foe  unde- 
stroyed.  Its  least  sympathetic  critic  must  admit 
that  it  has  shunned  neither  conflict  with  the  most 
formidable  antagonists  nor  the  scrutiny  of  the 
doubting  and  discussing  intellect ;  that,  on  the 
contrary,  its  course  has  been  a  continuous  cam- 
paign against  all  kinds  of  powers  and  principalities 
in  the  name  of  free  thought  and  scientific  truth  ; 

112  Anti-Theistic  Theories,. 

and  that  when  it  has  prospered,  it  has  not  been 
under  the  shadow  of  authority,  but  in  the  Hght  of 
reason.  It  may  be  true  that  whenever  it  has  been 
widely  prevalent,  moral,  social,  and  political  influ- 
ences have  contributed  to  its  diffusion ;  that  inter- 
ests and  passions  have  often  been  as  helpful  to  it 
as  reasons.  But  the  same  may  be  said  with  equal 
justice  of  all  systems.  No  doctrine  rests  exclu- 
sively on  intellectual  grounds,  or  triumphs  merely 
in  the  strength  of  pure  reason.  Materialism,  it 
cannot  be  denied,  has  constantly  appealed  to 
reason,  and  has  prevailed  most  in  epochs  charac- 
terised by  activity  of  reason.  It  has  not  faded 
and  decayed,  but  grown  and  flourished,  with  the 
increase  and  expansion  of  scientific  light.  It  was 
never  more  prevalent  than  in  the  present  day, 
when  the  spirit  of  investigation  is  everywhere 
obviously  and  energetically  at  work. 

Materialism  could  never  have  thus  lasted  and 
flourished  had  it  not  been  a  very  plausible  the- 
ory. It  could  never  have  had  the  history  which 
it  has  had  unless  it  had  much  to  say  for  itself. 
Make  full  allowance  for  interests  and  passions 
operating  in  its  favour,  yet  interests  and  passions 
can  only  sustain  and  propagate  either  themselves 
or  any  doctrine  or  movement  when  they  are  ac- 
companied by  the  persuasion  that  reason  is  on 
their  side.  Nothing  is  more  impotent  than  mere 
passion — blind  passion, — except  it  be  mere  interest 

TJie  A  rginnent  for  Materialism.  1 1 3 

— interest  consciously  separated  from  or  opposed  to 
truth.  Materialism  must  be  able  to  adduce  in  its 
favour  arguments  which  are  fitted  to  impress  and 
convince  both  the  popular  and  the  scientific  mind. 
Its  claims  to  acceptance  must  rest  on  grounds 
which,  while  not  recondite  or  difficult  to  under- 
stand, are  yet  of  a  kind  calculated  to  satisfy  many 
intellects  which  have  been  disciplined  by  physical 

That  this  is  the  case  I  must  endeavour  to  show. 
It  is  clearly  impossible  to  examine  in  a  single 
lecture  even  a  very  few  of  the  most  celebrated 
vindications  of  contemporary  materialism,  while 
it  would  hardly  be  fair  or  satisfactory  to  discuss 
merely  one  of  them.  It  seems  necessary,  therefore, 
to  treat  of  contemporary  materialism,  or,  as  it  is 
sometimes  called,  scientific  materialism,  in  a  gen- 
eral way.  This  requires  that  I  should  begin  by 
indicating  as  comprehensively  as  is  consistent  with 
brevity  the  general  character  of  the  argumentation 
which  is  employed  in  its  support. 

In  the  first  place,  then,  materialism  claims  to 
satisfy  better  than  any  other  system  the  legitimate 
demands  of  the  reason  for  unity.  There  cannot 
be  more  than  one  ultimate  explanation  of  things. 
If  the  variety  of  existences  in  the  universe  are 
traced  back  to  two  or  more  causes,  the  intellect 
must  sooner  or  later  perceive  that  it  has  stopped 
abruptly  and  left  its  work  incomplete.     The  two 


114  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

or  more  causes  which  have  been  reached  neces- 
sarily hmit  and  condition  one  another.  Whence 
and  why  are  they  thus  bounded  and  associated  ? 
The  question  cannot  be  evaded.  Reason  demands 
an  answer  to  it,  and  no  answer  can  be  found  in  the 
several  finite  and  co-ordinate  causes  themselves  ; 
it  must  be  found  in  a  single  higher  cause  on  which 
they  are  dependent.  It  is  only  by  reaching  unity 
that  we  can  get  above  the  limits  and  conditions 
which  are  conclusive  evidences  of  dependence. 
Hence  every  form  of  dualism  must  be  rejected  as 
a  theory  of  existence.  Only  a  monistic  philosophy 
can  be  a  true  philosophy.  But  theism,  say  ma- 
terialists, is  essentially  dualistic.  It  traces  the 
diversity  of  phenomena  in  the  universe  not  to  one 
cause,  but  to  two  causes.  It  refers  some  things  to 
mind,  and  other  things  to  matter,  and  maintains 
that  matter  and  mind  are  substantially  distinct. 
It  leaves  us  with  two  principles,  and  by  so  doing 
virtually  reduces  even  the  one  which  it  pronounces 
infinite  to  something  finite,  while  it  renders  it 
impossible  for  us  to  conceive  of  the  connection 
between  matter  and  mind  otherwise  than  as 
arbitrary.  Materialism,  on  the  other  hand,  is 
monism.  It  explains  the  whole  world  in  terms  of 
matter.  It  resolves  everything  in  nature — order, 
organisation,  life,  sensation,  thought,  poetry,  re- 
ligion, history — into  combinations  and  motions  of 
matter.      It   exhibits  the  universe  as  a  perfectly 

The  A  rgument  for  Materialism.  1 1 5 

homogeneous  and  coherent  system  naturally 
evolved  out  of  a  single  primary  existence.  It 
thus  satisfies  the  demands  of  philosophy  or  rational 
theory  for  unity.  Idealism,  it  is  true,  sets  up  rival 
pretensions.  It  professes  to  start  with  the  self- 
identity  or  absolute  unity  of  thought,  and  to  ex- 
plain matter  as  a  stage  in  the  development  or  as  a 
phase  of  the  manifestation  of  thought.  But  are  not 
its  claims  obviously  less  satisfactory  ?  We  know 
nothing  of  ideas  or  thoughts  except  as  states 
of  human  consciousness,  as  affections  or  products 
of  that  in  ourselves  which  we  call  mind.  They 
are  special  phenomena  in  the  life  or  experience 
of  men,  and  men  are  themselves  only  a  species 
of  natural  existences — a  class  of  animals — appa- 
rently the  last  evolved  in  the  terrestrial  sphere 
of  things.  Man  is  included  in  the  universe,  and 
ideas  are  included  in  man.  Reason  consequently 
requires  us  to  seek  the  explanation  of  man  and 
ideas  in  what  is  common  and  primary  in  the  uni- 
verse— matter  and  motion.  To  attempt  to  explain 
what  is  ancient  by  what  is  recent,  the  general  by 
the  particular,  the  macrocosm  by  the  microcosm, 
universal  existence  by  the  modifications  of  highly 
specialised  organisations,  is  a  monstrous  varepov 
TTporepov,  a  manifest  violation  of  the  laws  of  scien- 
tific method.  Thought,  which  is  independent  of 
human  consciousness,  can  only  be  affirmed  to 
exist  by  an  arbitrary  act  of  the  individual  mind, 

Ii6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

and  is  no  real  principle,  but  a  mystical  assump- 
tion ;  thought,  which  is  dependent  on  human 
consciousness,  can  no  more  be  the  unity  which 
accounts  for  the  universe,  than  the  characteristic 
features  of  the  leaves  of  a  particular  kind  of  tree 
can  be  the  sole  and  adequate  explanation  of  the 
entire  vegetable  kingdom. 

Further,  materialism  claims  to  be  the  only 
theory  which  satisfactorily  shows  that  all  things 
have  come  to  be  what  they  are  in  a  truly  nat- 
ural manner.  When  describing  the  evolution  of 
the  universe  from  unity  to  multiplicity,  it  appeals 
to  no  arbitrary  or  imaginary  factor,  no  principle 
which  is  supernatural,  no  process  which  transcends 
or  contravenes  science.  It  represents  the  universe 
as  a  self-consistent  and  perfect  system,  in  which 
everything  that  happens  follows  necessarily  from 
the  powers  inherent  in  the  system  itself.  Theism, 
on  the  contrary,  supposes  that  the  universe  in 
itself  is  incoherent  and  imperfect,  and  that  the 
explanation  of  many  things  in  it  must  be  sought 
for  out  of  itself  It  conceives  of  the  matter  of  the 
world  as  created ;  of  its  powers  as  derived  ;  of  its 
order  as  contrived ;  and  of  certain  events  and 
existences  comprehended  in  it  as  produced  by 
special  acts  of  Divine  interposition.  Such  a  view, 
say  materialists,  is  essentially  anti- scientific.  It 
implicitly  denies  not  only  that  the  world  is  a 
scientific  unity,  but  that  its  phenomena  are  expli- 

The  Argument  for  Materialism.  1 17 

cable  in  a  natural  manner,  whereas  the  chief  end  of 
science  is  to  show  that  the  world  is  a  S3'stematic 
unity,  and  that  all  its  phenomena  can  be  naturally- 
explained.      Idealism  may,  indeed,  be  here  again 
opposed  to  materialism.      Idealism  also  professes 
to  account  in  a  strictly  natural  manner  for  all  that 
is  explicable.     It  starts  from  the  unity  of  a  single 
principle,  and  has  recourse  only  to  immanent  pro- 
cesses, excluding  entirely  acts  of  supernatural  in- 
terference.    Idealism,  however,  it  will  be  replied, 
breaks  down  the  moment  it  is  brought  into  real 
contact  with  external  nature.     The  supposition  of 
its  truth  implies  that   the  various    operations    of 
the  physical  world  can  be  explained  by  the  laws 
of  an  impersonal  and  unconscious  dialectic ;  that 
mechanical,   chemical,   and   organic  processes  are 
essentially    notional    or   rational.      But   this    is   a 
hypothesis  which  physical  science  will  not  allow 
us   to   entertain.       The  attempt  to   interpret  me- 
chanical, chemical,  and  organic  facts  in  connection 
with  it  has  always  resulted  either  in  caricaturing 
or  contradicting  the  explanations  of  them   given 
by  physical  science.     In  other  words,  it  has  invari- 
ably led  to  dualism  of  the  worst  kind, — the  dual- 
ism which    consists    in    irreconcilable   antagonism 
between   philosophy   and    science.       Hegelianism 
supplies  us  with  a  striking  illustration  and  proof. 
Hegel  and  his  followers  saw  more  clearly  than  the 
idealists  of  any  other  school  had  done  that  it  was 

1 1 8  A  nti-  TJieistic  Theories. 

incumbent  upon  them  to  show  that  nature  was  a 
system  of  which  the  processes  were  the  stages  and 
expressions  of  an  immanent  logical  evolution,  and 
they  laboured  strenuously  and  ingeniously  at  the 
task.  What  was  the  result?  A  so-called  philo- 
sophy of  nature,  which  physical  science  is  forced 
to  condemn  as  a  gigantic  swindle.  In  the  Hegelian 
philosophy  of  nature,  idealism  made  evident  its 
scientific  bankruptcy.  It  is  very  different  with 
materialism,  which  accepts  and  incorporates  the 
whole  of  physical  science  without  alteration  or  per- 
version ;  which  founds  upon  the  results  of  physical 
research,  and  tries  to  extend  its  principles  and 
apply  its  methods  as  far  as  is  legitimately  possible. 
A  closely -connected  excellence  claimed  by 
materialism  is  that  of  being  the  most  intelligible 
of  systems.  It  is  maintained  that  we  never  truly 
understand  a  fact  or  process  of  which  we  cannot 
form  a  distinct  and  precise  image  or  picture. 
Whenever  a  thing  is  scientifically  explained,  the 
mind  is  enabled  to  form  to  itself  a  definite  and 
clear  conception  of  how  that  thing  came  to  be 
what  it  is.  But  pseudo- explanations  —  as,  for 
example,  those  given  of  natural  phenomena  by 
ancient  and  scholastic  philosophy — are  invariably 
vague  and  mystical.  Can  anything,  however, 
except  matter  and  material  processes,  be  definitely 
and  minutely  imaged  }  Can  anything  else  be  esti- 
mated with  quantitative  accuracy }     Can  there  be 

TJie  A  rgiimcnt  for  Materialism.  1 1 9 

any  exact  knowledge — i.e.,  science — so  long  as  ma- 
terial properties  are  not  reached  ?  The  materialist 
answers  all  these  questions  in  the  negative.  And, 
at  the  same  time,  he  contends  that  the  theistic 
mode  of  accounting  for  the  universe  by  the  crea- 
tive fiat  of  an  Eternal  Being  is  particularly  unin- 
telligible. Such  a  supposition  seems  to  him  to  be 
one  which  cannot,  properly  speaking,  be  realised 
in  thought  at  all.  A  man  may  verbally  express 
it,  and  even  fancy  that  he  believes  it,  yet  it  is  in 
itself  essentially  inconceivable. 

From  preliminary  considerations  like  the  fore- 
going, the  materialist  may  proceed  to  what  is 
strictly  his  argument,  which  still  remains  to  be 
stated.  It  consists  in  maintaining  that  the  facts 
of  nature  do  not  in  any  case  demand  for  their 
explanation  a  principle  or  principles  distinct  from 
matter.  The  properties  of  matter  are  the  sole,  the 
direct,  and  the  immediate  objects  of  the  senses. 
They  confront  the  mind  from  the  earliest  dawn 
of  consciousness,  and  are  apprehended  by  it  long 
before  self- reflection  is  elicited.  Touch,  taste, 
sight,  hearing,  and  smell,  all  converge  on  matter, 
and  constrain  us  to  commence  with  it.  Before 
we  abandon  it  and  its  properties,  the  necessity  of 
having  recourse  to  a  distinct  substance  with  dis- 
tinct properties  must  be  clearly  made  out.  In  the 
inorganic  world  no  such  necessity  arises.  Yet  it 
is   a  world   rich   in   differences,  presenting  a  vast 

120  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

variety  of  constituents  and  forces,  of  stages  and 
processes,  of  colours,  sounds,  savours,  and  odours. 
The  objects  of  one  sense  are  quite  unlike  those  of 
another,  and  light,  heat,  electricity,  and  magnet- 
ism appear  to  be  entirely  distinct.  But  examina- 
tion discovers  everywhere  an  essential  sameness. 
It  was  the  glory  of  the  atomic  or  materialistic 
philosophy  of  ancient  Greece  to  have  recognised 
that  the  diversity  of  things  was  only  secondary  ; 
that  underneath  the  phenomenal  variety  was  real 
identity ;  that  all  qualitative  distinctions  might 
be  resolved  into  quantitative  distinctions.  This 
truth  has  not  only  been  fully  confirmed  in  modern 
times,  but  has  been  brilliantly  supplemented  and 
completed  by  the  great  discovery  of  the  correla- 
tion of  forces.  Light,  heat,  electricity,  magnetism, 
chemical  affinity,  and  mechanical  motion,  have 
been  ascertained  to  be  convertible.  Any  one  of 
them  may  be  transformed  into  any  other.  They 
are  but  modes  of  the  movements  which  take  place 
among  the  molecules  of  matter.  They  are  but  the 
metamorphoses  of  a  common  force,  which  is  un- 
changeable in  amount  although  variable  in  quality. 
Does  the  anti  -  materialist  argue  that,  however 
the  case  may  stand  with  the  inorganic  world, 
organisation  cannot  be  conceived  of  as  a  product 
of  molecular  combinations  and  mechanical  forces  } 
Does  he  contend  that  there  is  a  chasm  or  gulf 
between    inorganic  and  organic   nature,  and  that 

The  A  rgiinicnt  for  Materialism.  1 2 1 

materialism  fails  to  bridge  over  the  distance  be- 
tween the  one  region  and  the  other  ?  It  may  be 
replied  that  this  is  an  argument  based  not  on 
knowledge  but  on  ignorance,  and  addressed  not 
to  knowledge  but  to  ignorance.  Because  we  do 
not  know  that  purely  physical  forces  can  construct 
a  living  cell  as  we  know  that  they  can  build  up  a 
crystal,  we  infer  that  they  cannot  do  the  former. 
But  logic  warrants  no  such  inference.  A  solution 
of  continuity,  a  chasm,  in  knowledge  is  no  proof 
that  there  is  a  solution  of  continuity  or  chasm  in 
nature.  Ignorance  cannot  be  legitimately  reasoned 
from  as  if  it  were  knowledge. 

Further,  Is  not  the  gap  in  science  being  gradu- 
ally filled  up  ?  Is  not  knowledge  as  it  advances 
making  it  apparent  that  there  is  no  gap  in  nature 
at  the  point  indicated  t  In  the  light  of  recent 
science  we  cannot  but  vividly  realise  that  matter 
is  capable  of  transformations  so  diversified  and 
wonderful  that  we  must  be  very  cautious  before 
w^e  venture  to  assign  limits  to  its  powers  of  adap- 
tation, change,  and  efficiency.  The  same  particle 
of  it  may  in  succession  be  a  constituent  of  a  drop 
of  dew,  of  an  invisible  vapour,  of  a  crystal  of  snow, 
of  a  mineral,  of  the  stem,  sap,  flower,  or  fruit  of 
a  plant,  and  of  the  flesh,  blood,  bone,  or  brain  of 
man,  performing  necessarily  very  different  func- 
tions in  the  several  instances.  Crystallisation  is  a 
process  scarcely  less  marvellous  in  itself  and  in  its 

122  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

results  than  growth.  Why  are  we  not  to  believe 
that  in  the  latter  process  no  less  than  in  the  former 
every  molecule  is  placed  in  its  position  not  by  any 
external  power,  whether  creative  mind  or  vital 
principle,  but  by  attractions  and  repulsions  due  to 
the  natures  of  the  molecules  themselves  ?  If  mat- 
ter can  display  in  special  circumstances  the  struc- 
tural powers  exhibited  in  crystallisation,  why  may 
it  not  in  other,  perhaps  more  complex  circum- 
stances, manifest  the  organic  powers  witnessed  in 
vegetable  and  animal  growth  ? 

It  was  until  recently  supposed  that  there  was  a 
chasm  which  could  not  be  bridged  over  between 
the  very  chemistry  of  inorganic  and  organic  bodies, 
and  that  no  animal  substances  could  be  com- 
pounded by  the  chemist.  This  doctrine  is  now 
overthrown.  The  supposed  break  in  nature  which 
was  regarded  as  indicating  the  presence  and  inter- 
vention of  a  distinct  principle  in  organised  struc- 
tures is  now  found  to  have  been  but  a  blank  in  our 
knowledge.  "  Not  many  years  since,"  says  Mr 
Spencer,  "  it  was  held  as  certain  that  the  chemical 
compounds  distinguished  as  organic  could  not  be 
formed  artificially.  Now,  more  than  a  thousand 
organic  compounds  have  been  formed  artificially. 
Chemists  have  discovered  the  art  of  buildinsf  them 
up  from  the  simpler  to  the  more  complex  ;  and 
do  not  doubt  that  they  will  eventually  produce 
the  most  complex." 

The  A  rgnment  for  Materialism.  1 2  3 

That  the  matter  of  organic  bodies  is  the  same 
as  that  of  inorganic  objects  has,  of  course,  a  very 
important  bearing  on  the  question  whether  or  not 
vitaHty  is  resolvable  into  the  mechanical  properties 
and  chemical  processes  of  matter.  What  that 
bearing  is  I  shall  leave  it  to  Professor  Huxley  to 
state.  Treating  of  the  "  Physical  Basis  of  Life," 
he  writes  :  "  Plants  are  the  accumulators  of  the 
power  which  animals  distribute  and  dispense.  But 
it  will  be  observed  that  the  existence  of  the  mat- 
ter of  life  depends  on  the  pre-existence  of  certain 
compounds  —  namely,  carbonic  acid,  water,  and 
ammonia.  Withdraw  any  one  of  these  three  from 
the  world,  and  all  vital  phenomena  come  to  an 
end.  They  are  related  to  the  protoplasm  of  the 
plant  as  the  protoplasm  of  the  plant  is  to  that 
of  the  animal.  Carbon,  hydrogen,  oxygen,  and 
nitrogen  are  all  lifeless  bodies.  Of  these,  carbon 
and  oxygen  unite  in  certain  proportions,  and  under 
certain  conditions,  to  give  rise  to  carbonic  acid; 
hydrogen  and  oxygen  produce  water;  nitrogen 
and  hydrogen  give  rise  to  ammonia.  These  new 
compounds,  like  the  elementary  bodies  of  which 
they  are  composed,  are  lifeless.  But  when  they 
are  brought  together  under  certain  conditions, 
they  give  rise  to  the  still  more  complex  body, 
protoplasm,  and  this  protoplasm  exhibits  the  phe- 
nomena of  life.  I  see  no  break  in  this  series  of 
steps  in  molecular  complication,  and  I  am  unable 

124  Afiti'Theistic  Theories. 

to  understand  why  the  language  which  is  appli- 
cable to  any  one  term  of  the  series  may  not  be 
used  to  any  of  the  others.  We  think  fit  to  call 
different  kinds  of  matter  carbon,  oxygen,  hydro- 
gen, and  nitrogen,  and  to  speak  of  the  various 
powers  and  activities  of  these  substances  as  the 
properties  of  the  matter  of  which  they  are  com- 
posed. When  hydrogen  and  oxygen  are  mixed 
in  a  certain  proportion,  and  the  electric  spark  is 
passed  through  them,  they  disappear,  and  a  quan- 
tity of  water,  equal  in  weight  to  the  sum  of  their 
weights,  appears  in  their  place.  There  is  not  the 
slightest  parity  between  the  passive  and  active 
powers  of  the  water  and  those  of  the  oxygen 
and  hydrogen  which  have  given  rise  to  it.  .  .  . 
Nevertheless,  we  do  not  hesitate  to  believe  that, 
in  some  way  or  another,  the  properties  of  the 
water  result  from  the  properties  of  the  component 
elements  of  the  water.  We  do  not  assume  that  a 
something  called  aquosity  entered  into  and  took 
possession  of  the  oxide  of  hydrogen  as  soon  as 
it  was  formed,  and  then  guided  the  aqueous 
particles  to  their  places  in  the  facets  of  the  crystal, 
or  amongst  the  leaflets  of  the  hoar-frost.  .  .  . 
Does  anybody  quite  comprehend  the  modus  oper- 
andi of  an  electric  spark,  Avhich  traverses  a  mix- 
ture of  oxygen  and  hydrogen  }  What  justification 
is  there,  then,  for  the  assumption  of  the  existence 
in  the  living  matter  of  a  something  which  has  no 

The  A  rgumcnt  for  Materialism.  1 2  5 

representative  or  correlative  in  the  not-living  mat- 
ter which  gave  rise  to  it  ?  What  better  philoso- 
phical status  has  '  vitality '  than  '  aquosity  '  ?  And 
why  should  '  vitality '  hope  for  a  better  fate  than  the 
other  '  itys  '  which  have  disappeared  since  Martinus 
Scriblerus  accounted  for  the  operation  of  the 
meat-jack  by  its  inherent  *  meat-roasting  quality,' 
and  scorned  the  materialism  of  those  who  ex- 
plained the  turning  of  the  spit  by  a  certain  mech- 
anism worked  by  the  draught  of  the  chimney?" 

The  mere  chemical  analysis  of  inorganic  bodies, 
then,  proves  that  as  to  substance  or  matter  they 
are  identical  with  inorganic  objects.  But  science, 
it  is  contended,  carries  us  much  farther,  not  merely 
inferentially  from  this  unity  of  composition,  but 
directly  by  demonstrating  that  what  is  called  vital 
force  is  simply  mechanical  and  chemical  force 
transformed  through  the  special  conditions  under 
which  it  acts.  The  human  body  is  as  incapable 
of  generating  force  as  is  a  steam-engine  or  a  gal- 
vanic battery.  It  only  distributes  the  force  which 
it  receives  from  the  world  without,  and  varies  its 
manifestations  to  the  senses.  Its  every  action 
and  process — walking  and  climbing,  pulling  and 
pushing,  respiration  and  digestion,  assimilation 
and  excretion  —  can  be  shown  to  be  either  a 
mechanical  or  chemical  operation.  The  force 
displayed  by  animals  in  muscular  contractions  is 
entirely  derived  from  the  energy  stored  up  in  the 

126  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

food  which  they  consume.  The  heat  which  is 
diffused  through  their  frames  is  due  to  chemical 
combination.  Digestion  is  simply  a  form  of 
combustion.  The  circulation  of  the  blood  is 
indubitably  a  mechanical  movement  effected  by 
mechanical  force.  What  room  is  left  in  organ- 
isms for  a  vital  force  essentially  distinct  from  the 
inorganic  powers  of  matter .?  It  is  unnecessary  to 
dwell  longer  on  an  argument  which  has  been  so 
often  presented  to  the  English  public  in  the  brill- 
iant expositions  of  Professor  Tyndall. 

The  significance  of  the  doctrine  of  evolution 
must  also  not  be  overlooked  in  the  present 
connection.  A  few  years  ago  every  group  of 
organisms  called  a  species  was  supposed  to  have 
originated  in  a  direct  creative  act  or  miracle. 
Now,  this  hypothesis  is  almost  universally  aban- 
doned. Its  place  is  occupied  by  Darwinianism  or 
some  other  form  of  the  development  theory.  An 
enormous  mass  of  facts  has  been  collected  from 
astronomy,  geology,  geography,  biology,  linguis- 
tics, 8z:c.,  and  presented  in  a  light  which  has  con- 
vinced most  scientific  men  that  from  a  few  organic 
forms,  if  not  from  a  single  organism,  of  the 
simplest  kind,  all  organised  beings  have  been 
gradually,  naturally,  and  necessarily  formed  and 
distributed.  But  if  this  theory  be  true  (and  those 
who  deny  its  truth  must  disprove  it),  obviously  the 
probability  is  very  great  that,  as  there  has  been 

TJic  A  rginncnt  for  MatcrialisuL  1 27 

no  supernatural  interposition  in  the  course  of  the 
evolution  of  organic  beings,  so  there  was  none 
when  life  and  organisation  first  began  to  be,  and 
consequently,  that  no  absolutely  new  principle,  no 
immaterial  vital  force,  was  then  abruptly  and  in- 
explicably inserted  into  nature. 

If  it  be  admitted,  on  the  strength  of  the  fore- 
going and  similar  considerations,  that  even  a  single 
vital  cell  may  have  originated  in  the  laboratory 
of  nature,  under  peculiar  conditions,  from  the 
combination  of  inorganic  elements  and  the  action 
of  chemical  and  mechanical  forces,  it  can  be  left 
to  the  Darwinian  theory  of  development  to  ex- 
plain how  that  single  cell  might,  in  the  course  of 
millions  on  millions  of  years,  by  successive  infini- 
tesimally  minute  modifications,  be  the  source  from 
which  every  plant  and  animal  in  the  world  has 
derived  its  life  and  organisation.  In  so  'far  as 
biology  accomplishes,  or  attempts  to  accomplish, 
this  task,  it  may  be  held  to  be  simply  a  stage  or 
section  of  the  materialistic  theory,  and  materialism 
to  be  identical  with  biological  science. 

It  will  be  said  that  there  is  an  impassable 
barrier  between  vegetable  and  animal  life — that 
plants  can  never  have  risen  into  animals,  nor  ani- 
mals degenerated  into  plants.  Mr  Spencer  has 
thus  answered  this  argument  when  replying  to  Dr 
Martineau :  "  This  is  an  extremely  unfortunate 
objection    to    raise.      For    though   there    are    no 

128  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

transitions  Irom  vegetal  to  animal  life  at  the 
places  Mr  Martineau  names  (where,  indeed,  no 
biologist  would  look  for  them),  yet  the  connection 
between  the  two  great  kingdoms  of  living  things 
is  so  complete  that  separation  is  now  regarded  as 
impossible.  For  a  long  time  naturalists  endeav- 
oured to  frame  definitions  such  as  would,  the  one 
include  all  plants  and  exclude  all  animals,  and  the 
other  include  all  animals  and  exclude  all  plants. 
But  they  have  been  so  repeatedly  foiled  in  the 
attempt  that  they  have  given  it  up.  There  is  no 
chemical  distinction  that  holds  ;  there  is  no  struc- 
tural distinction  that  holds  ;  there  is  no  functional 
distinction  that  holds  ;  there  is  no  distinction  as 
to  mode  of  existence  that  holds.  Large  groups 
of  the  simpler  animals  contain  chlorophyll,  and 
decompose  carbonic  acid  under  the  influence  of 
light,  as  plants  do.  Large  groups  of  the  simpler 
animals,  as  you  may  observe  in  the  diatoms  from 
any  stagnant  pool,  are  as  actively  locomotive  as 
the  minute  creatures  classed  as  animals  seen  along 
with  them.  Nay,  among  these  lowest  types  of  liv- 
ing things  it  is  common  for  the  life  to  be  now  pre- 
dominantly,  and  presently  to  become  pre- 
dominantly vegetal.  The  very  name  zoospores,  given 
to  germs  of  Algce^  which  for  a  while  swim  about 
actively  by  means  of  cilia,  and  presently  settling 
down  grow  into  plant-forms,  is  given  because  of  this 
conspicuous  community  of  nature.     So   complete 

The  A  rgHjncnt  for  Materialism.  1 29 

is  this  community  of  nature,  that  for  some  time 
past  many  naturahsts  have  wished  to  estabHsh  for 
these  lowest  types  a  sub -kingdom,  intermediate 
between  the  animal  and  the  vegetal :  the  reason 
against  this  course  being,  however,  that  the  diffi- 
culty crops  up  afresh  at  any  assumed  place  where 
this  intermediate  sub-kingdom  may  be  supposed 
to  join  the  other  two.  Thus  the  assumption  on 
which  Mr  Martineau  proceeds  is  diametrically  op- 
posed to  the  conviction  of  naturalists  in  general." 
— Cont.  Rev.,  June  1872. 

There  remains  the  barrier  of  mind  or  conscious- 
ness. The  materialist  maintains  that  science 
proves  that  matter  is,  in  this  case,  also  an  ade- 
quate principle  of  explanation.  All  the  powers  of 
the  human  mind  may  be  traced  to  roots  in  the 
lower  animals.  The  life  of  the  body  and  its 
functions  are  manifestations  of  the  same  generic 
principle  as  the  so-called  life  of  the  soul  and  its 
functions.  There  is  only  a  difference  of  degree 
between  the  highest  mental  and  the  lowest  vital 
faculties.  There  is  no  absolute  break  or  distinc- 
tion, but,  on  the  contrary,  a  continuous  progres- 
sion along  the  entire  psychological  line  which  runs 
from  the  protogeiies  and  protamccba  to  Plato  and 
Shakespeare,  and  yet  in  the  two  former  the  mo- 
tions, which  are  the  evidences  of  their  animality, 
are  scarcely,  if  at  all,  distinguishable  from  the 
contractions  and   expansions  of  certain    colloidal 


130  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

substances.  The  doctrines  of  the  correlation  of 
forces  and  of  development  are  as  applicable  to 
the  explanation  of  mind  as  of  life.  Mind  is  force, 
the  highest  development  of  force,  the  force  which 
is  accumulated  in  the  brain  and  nerves  ;  and  men- 
tal force  is  as  exactly  correlated  with  vital  and 
with  physical  force  as  these  are  with  each  other. 
It  may  be  proved  by  a  variety  of  scientific  con- 
siderations that  all  forces  come  under  the  same 
generalisation.  Motion,  heat,  and  light,  may  be 
transformed  into  sensation,  emotion,  and  thought ; 
and  these  may  be  reconverted  into  motion,  heat, 
and  hght.  The  theory  of  development  has  been 
employed  with  success  by  a  host  of  investigators 
in  the  elucidation  of  all  kinds  of  mental  pheno- 
mena. The  result  has  been  to  show  that  the 
phenomena  peculiar  to  human  psychology  may 
be  resolved  into  simpler  states,  and  that  these 
may  be  traced  backwards  and  downwards  until 
the  primordial  properties  of  matter  are  reached. 
The  argument  for  materialism  may  now,  per- 
haps, be  fitly  concluded  in  the  words  of  Professor 
Huxley :  "  I  take  it  to  be  demonstrable  that  it  is 
utterly  impossible  to  prove  that  anything  what- 
ever may  not  be  the  effect  of  a  material  and 
necessary  cause,  and  that  human  logic  is  equally 
incompetent  to  prove  that  any  act  is  really  spon- 
taneous. A  really  spontaneous  act  is  one  which, 
by  the  assumption,  has  no  cause ;  and  the  attempt 

TJie  A  rgument  for  Materialism.  1 3 1 

to  prove  such  a  negative  as  this,  is,  on  the  very 
face  of  the  matter,  absurd.  And  while  it  is  thus 
a  philosophical  impossibility  to  demonstrate  that 
any  given  phenomenon  is  not  the  effect  of  a  ma- 
terial cause,  any  one  who  is  acquainted  with  the 
history  of  science  will  admit  that  its  progress  has, 
in  all  ages,  meant,  and  now  more  that  ever  means, 
the  extension  of  the  province  of  what  we  call  mat- 
ter and  causation,  and  the  concomitant  gradual 
banishment  from  all  regions  of  human  thought 
of  what  we  call  spirit  and  spontaneity.  And  as 
surely  as  every  future  grows  out  of  the  past  and 
present,  so  will  the  physiology  of  the  future  grad- 
ually extend  the  realm  of  matter  and  law  until  it 
is  coextensive  with  knowledge,  with  feeling,  and 
with  action.  The  consciousness  of  this  great  truth 
weighs  like  a  nightmare,  I  believe,  upon  many  of 
the  best  minds  of  these  days.  They  watch  what 
they  conceive  to  be  the  progress  of  materialism, 
in  such  fear  and  powerless  anger  as  a  savage  feels 
when,  during  an  eclipse,  the  great  shadow  creeps 
over  the  face  of  the  sun.  The  advancing  tide  of 
matter  threatens  to  drown  their  souls  ;  the  tight- 
ening grasp  of  law  impedes  their  freedom  ;  they 
are  alarmed  lest  man's  moral  nature  be  debased 
by  the  increase  of  his  wisdom."  ^ 

^  See  Appendix  XV. 

132  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 


A  general  view  of  the  argument  in  favour  of 
materialism  has  now  been  laid  before  you.  My 
next  duty  is  to  examine  whether  or  not  the  reason- 
ing which  it  includes  and  involves  is  valid. 

Is  it  true,  then,  I  ask,  that  materialism  satisfies 
the  legitimate  demands  of  the  reason  for  unity  ? 
I  grant  that  reason,  when  in  quest  of  an  ultimate 
explanation  of  things,  imperatively  demands  unity, 
and  that  only  a  monistic  theory  of  the  universe 
can  deserve  the  name  of  a  philosophy.  While 
aware  that  the  desire  for  unity  has  given  rise  to 
countless  aberrations,  and  that  it  needs  to  be  care- 
fully watched  lest  it  create  factitious  unities  when 
it  fails  to  find  real  unities,  I  yet  unhesitatingly 
acknowledge  that  it  originates  in,  and  is  the 
expression  of,  the  very  constitution  of  rational 
thought,  which  can  never  regard  a  number  of 
co-ordinate  causes  as  other  than  a  group  of  sec- 
ondary causes.  But  the  question  is.  Is  material- 
,  ism  monism  }  or,  in  other  words,  Is  matter  one  } 
I  answer,  No.  Matter  cannot  possibly  be  con- 
ceived of  as  properly  one.  Materialism  is  neces- 
sarily multitudinism,  and  as  such  must  inevitably 
be  pronounced  an  ,essentially  unphilosophical  and 
irrational  hypothesis. 

The  world  presented  to  us  by  the  senses  and 

General  Objections  to  Materialism.  1 3  3 

immediate  consciousness  is  certainly  not  one,  and 
is  held  by  nobody  to  be  one.     It  is  a  vast  complex 
of  objects,  agencies,  and  conditions — stars,  stones, 
plants,  animals,   light,   heat,   electricity,  thoughts, 
feelings,  volitions.     Its  contents  may  have  a  unity 
imparted  to  them  by  generalisation,  but  merely  a 
unity  which  is  given  to  them  from  without  and  for 
a  purpose, — a  unity  which  depends  on  the  point 
of  view  from  which  things  are  considered.     There 
may  be  any  number  of  such  unities  ;  there  may 
be  even  more  of  them  than  there  are  things.     Real 
unity  cannot  be  thus  reached.     Nor  is  it  thus  but 
by  analysis  that  materialists  seek  it.     Things  may 
be  resolved  into  their  elements  ;  compounds  may 
be  reduced  to  simples.     This  process  of  analysis 
might  conceivably  take  us  far  towards  a   sort   of 
unity  in   a  strictly  scientific  manner.      I   cannot 
indeed  admit  its  sufficiency  to  take  us  quite  even 
to  the  unity  of  a  single  physical  element,  for  no 
such  element,   no   single   entirely  uncompounded 
element,  can  ever  produce  another.     Two  physical 
elements  may  produce  a  third,  but  no  one  element 
can  ever  produce  anything.     It  must  for  ever  re- 
main itself.     There  is,  however,  no  obvious  reason 
why  analysis   should  not  have  proved  that  there 
are  only  two,  or  at  least  a"  very  few,  physical  ele- 
ments, out  of  which  have  been  formed  by  succes- 
sive combinations  all  material  substances,  the  so- 
called   elements   included.      But  it  has  in  reality 

134  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories. 

done  nothing  of  the  kind  ;  it  has  not  taken  us  a 
step  towards  unity.  The  ancient  Greek  philoso- 
phers beheved  the  elements  of  matter  to  be  far 
fewer  than  do  our  modern  chemists.  It  is  just  the 
reverse  of  the  truth  to  affirm  that  the  tendency  of 
physical  research  has  been  to  demonstrate  the 
unity  or  simplicity  of  matter.  Chemical  science 
may  display  that  tendency  in  the  future,  but  it 
has  not  displayed  it  in  the  past.  Even  if  we  are 
content  to  ignore  mind,  to  treat  psychical  ele- 
ments as  if  they  had  no  existence,  scientific 
analysis  takes  us  to  about  sixty- four  ultimates 
instead  of  to  one  ultimate.  Had  the  number  been 
much  smaller — had  it  been  only  two — it  would 
still  have  been  a  result  incompatible  with  a  ma- 
terialistic monism.  Reason  cannot  acquiesce  even 
in  two  ultimates,  although  much  less,  of  course,  in 

It  may  very  well  be  that  many  of  the  substances 
which  chemists  at  present  call  elementary  are  not 
simple.  Spectrum  analysis  and  the  phenomena  of 
allotropy  suggest  the  conclusion  that  some  of 
them  are  complex.  It  is  free  to  any  one  to  conjec- 
ture that  they  have  all  been  formed  by  compound- 
ing and  recompounding  absolutely  indecompos- 
able and  homogeneous  units.  But  it  is  free  to  no 
one  to  put  this  forward  as  more  than  a  conjecture, 
or  to  conceal  that  the  analysis  of  the  so-called 
elementary  substances  might  result  not  in  dimin- 

General  Objections  to  Materialism.  1 3  5 

ishing  but  in  increasing  the  number  of  substances 
which  would  have  to  be  admitted,  at  least  provi- 
sionally, as  ultimate.  In  the  present  state  of  our 
knowledge  this  is  just  as  legitimate  a  conjecture  as 
the  opposite.  We  have  as  yet  no  properly  scien- 
tific reason  for  believing  that  the  elements  of 
matter  are  really  fewer  than  they  are  supposed 
to  be.  We  are  very  far,  indeed,  from  being 
entitled  to  affirm  that  there  is  only  one  physical 
element.  But  until  this  conclusion  is  established, 
the  original  of  the  materialist  cannot  even  be  re- 
garded as  one  in  kind.  His  matter  is  not  all  of 
the  same  sort.  It  is  essentially  a  multiplicity  of 
things  specifically  distinct.  It  cannot,  consequently, 
be  the  basis  of  a  monistic  system  of  thought. 

Let  me,  however,  make  to  the  materialist  an 
enormous  concession,  and  one  to  which  he  is  not 
entitled.  Let  me  suppose  him  to  have  done  what 
he  has  certainly  not  done — to  have  proved  what 
he  has  merely  conjectured  —  namely,  that  there 
exists  but  a  single  truly  elementary  physical  sub- 
stance. Let  me,  further,  not  press  him  with  any 
of  the  perplexing  questions  which  suggest  them- 
selves as  to  the  nature  of  the  wholly  undifferen- 
tiated, absolutely  homogeneous  matter  which  his 
single  primordial  element  must  be.  Matter,  let  it 
be  granted,  then,  is  reducible  to  a  single  physical 
constituent.  That  proves  m.atter  to  be  of  one  kind 
or  sort.     But  does  it  prove  it  to  be  one?     This  is 

136  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

the  decisive  question,  and  obviously  the  only  pos- 
sible answer  is  a  negation.  A  pure,  homogeneous, 
physical  element  is  not  in  the  least  a  real  unity. 
It  is  an  aggregate  of  parts,  each  ot  which  is  as 
much  a  substance  as  the  whole.  You  may  take  a 
portion  of  it  from  one  place  and  another  portion 
of  it  from  another  place— a  yard,  say,  or  a  mile 
distant— and  these  portions  may  be  perfectly  alike, 
yet  they  are  also  perfectly  distinct.  The  one  is 
not  the  other.  They  are  not  identical ;  not  one. 
A  physical  element,  therefore,  although  entirely 
pure  and  unmixed,  is  necessarily  a  multitude.  It 
consists  of  as  many  substances  as  it  consists  of 
atoms.  Real  unity  is  precisely  what  it  has  not 
and  cannot  have  in  itself.  To  talk  of  materialistic 
monism  is,  therefore,  as  self- contradictory  as  to 
talk  of  a  circular  square.  It  is  a  kind  of  speech 
which  betrays  intellectual  bankruptcy. 

The  unsatisfactoriness  of  materialism  as  regards 
the  demand  of  reason  for  unity  becomes  only  the 
more  evident  when  we  take  into  consideration  the 
fact  that  force  is  always  combined  with  matter. 
This  fact  is  disputed  by  no  one,  but  opinions 
differ  widely  as  to  how  matter  and  force  are  com- 
bined. Is  matter  the  cause  of  force .?  Is  force  a 
result  of  matter.?  An  answer  in  the  affirmative 
is,  perhaps,  the  only  one  which  materialism  can 
consistently  give.  It  is  an  answer,  however, 
which  satisfies  the  principle  of  unity  at  the  ex- 

General  Objections  to  Matei'ialism.  1 2)7 

pensc  of  the  principle  of  causality,  and  is,  be- 
sides, inherently  unintelligible.  How  can  matter 
be  the  cause  of  force  or  any  other  effect  unless 
it  have  force  to  cause  the  effect  ?  A  matter 
which  produces  force  without  force  is  a  cause 
which  is  destitute  of  power  to  be  a  cause.  Mat- 
ter which  is  mere  matter — matter  which  is  ante- 
cedent to  force  —  is  matter  which  explains  no- 
thing;  and  that  such  matter  should,  in  a  uni- 
verse of  which  the  original  principle  is  matter,  be 
always  and  everywhere  accompanied  by  force,  is 
a  greater  mystery  than  any  contained  in  theology 
or  metaphysics. 

Hence  the  majority  of  materialists  have  pre- 
ferred to  represent  matter  and  force  as  at  once 
inseparable  and  co-ordinate.  According  to  this 
view  both  are  ultimate,  and  the  one  is  not  related 
to  the  other  as  cause  and  effect.  But  what,  then, 
becomes  of  the  unity  or  monism  of  the  materialist  .-* 
It  vanishes,  and  in  its  place  there  emerges  a  dual- 
ity by  which  he  cannot  fail  to  be  embarrassed. 
But  the  difficulty  which  he  has  now  to  encounter 
has  been  so  accurately  and  comprehensively  stated 
by  Professor  Calderwood,  that  quotation  will  com- 
pletely serve  my  purpose.  "  The  perplexity  of 
the  problem  under  a  materialistic  theory  is  not 
lessened  but  increased  when  duality  of  origin  is 
assigned,  by  introducing  Force  in  addition  to 
Material  Substance.     Duality  of  existence,  with  co- 

138  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

eternity  of  duration,  involves  perplexity  sufficient 
to  bar  logical  procedure.  This  duality  of  exist- 
ence implies  diversity  of  nature  and  mutual  re- 
striction ;  and  these  two,  diversity  and  limitation, 
raise  anew  the  problem  which  they  were  meant  to 
solve.  The  explanation  needs  to  be  explained. 
Again,  matter  and  force  are  postulated  primarily 
to  account  for  motion,  but  in  accounting  for  mo- 
tion, they  are  proved  Insufficient  to  account  for 
existence.  That  which  needs  to  have  force  exerted 
upon  It  in  order  to  be  moved  is  not  self-sufficient, 
and  the  same  is  true  of  the  force  which  needs 
matter  on  which  to  exert  its  energy."  —  Hand- 
Book  of  Moral  Philosophy,  pp.  235,  236. 

Force  may  be  conceived  of  as  neither  the  effect 
of  matter  nor  co-ordinate  with  it,  but  its  cause. 
This  is  a  not  uncommon  view,  and  much  may  be 
urged  in  its  support.  But  obviously,  if  It  be  true, 
materialism  Is  erroneous.  Matter  Is  in  this  case 
not  what  is  first  in  the  universe— force  Is  before  it ; 
and  Indeed  matter,  when  thus  reduced  to  a  mere 
effect  of  force  acting  on  sense,  is  virtually  abolished 
as  a  substance.  The  universe  of  matter  is  resolved 
into  a  universe  of  force.  The  force  may,  however, 
be  conceived  of  as  merely  physical  force.  Would 
this  universe  of  physical  force  be  a  unity  }  Cer- 
tainly not.  As  physical  force— force  Indissolubly 
associated  with  a  material  manifestation — it  could 
merely  h^  force  of  one  kind,  not  one  force.     It  must 

General  Objections  to  Materialism.  139 

necessarily  be  as  divisible,  as  multiple,  as  its  mate- 
rial manifestation.  The  force  in  one  place  could 
not  but  be  distinct  from  the  force  in  another  place. 
A  world  of  physical  force  must  be  a  world  which 
is  simply  an  aggregate  of  physical  forces. 

It  follows  from  what  has  been  said  that  the 
world  can  have  no  real  unity  either  in  mere  matter 
or  mere  physical  force.  If  reason  is  to  find  the 
unity  it  seeks,  it  must  go  farther  and  deeper  ;  it 
must  not  stop  short  of  an  immaterial  cause  of 
matter,  of  an  indivisible  source  of  divisible  forces, 
of  a  power  which  can  give  to  what  is  essentially 
multiple  the  unity  of  arrangement  and  plan.  Mon- 
ism can  have  no  other  solid  basis  than  the  truth 
that  the  universe  "  lives  and  moves  and  has  its 
being"  in  a  single  creative  and  providential  Mind, 
"of  whom,  through  whom,  and  to  whom  are  all 

We  have  next  to  examine  whether  or  not  the 
claim  of  materialism  to  be  a  system  which  pro- 
ceeds on  principles  that  are  strictly  natural  and 
scientific,  is  well  founded.  It  seems  to  me  that  it 
is  not.  One  of  its  principles  is  that  there  is  noth- 
ing in  the  universe  except  matter,  and  what  is 
explicable  by  matter;  that  to  refer  to  anything 
else  as  a  cause  is  to  appeal  to  an  arbitrary  or 
imaginary  factor.  Now,  whatever  the  affirmation 
here  may  be  as  a  conclusion,  it  is  plainly  irrational 
and   unscientific  as  a   principle.      The   man  who 

140  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

beeins  Investifration  with  it  comes  to  nature  with 
an  a  pi'iori  dogma,  and  insists  that  she  shall  only 
tell  him  what  he  already  wishes  to  believe.  That 
is  not  scientific,  but  essentially  anti  -  scientific. 
Genuine  science  demands  that  nature  shall  be  al- 
lowed to  speak  for  herself  and  be  believed,  whether 
she  teaches  that  the  principles  required  for  the 
explanation  of  her  phenomena  are  few  or  many. 
No  factor  ought  to  be  pronounced  arbitrary  or 
imaginary  until  proved  to  be  not  required  for  the 
explanation  of  facts.  The  materialist,  if  he  would 
be  truly  scientific,  must  be  content  to  wait  until 
he  has  finished  his  argumentation  against  the 
spiritualist  and  the  theist  before  he  affirms  that 
to  trace  effects  to  God  or  the  soul  is  to  appeal  to 
an  arbitrary  factor.  But  where  are  there  materi- 
alists to  be  found  who  are  willing  to  do  anything 
of  the  kind  t  I  know  of  none.  Almost  without 
exception,  materialists  assume  at  the  outset  that 
science  is  bound  to  recognise  only  material  causes, 
and  their  whole  argumentation  is  largely  depen- 
dent on  this  assumption. 

A  second  principle  of  materialism  is  that  the 
higher  must  be  explained  by  the  lower,  the  supe- 
rior by  the  inferior.  Comte  was  perhaps  the  first 
clearly  to  point  out  that  this  is  the  universal  and 
distinctive  characteristic  of  materialism.  It  ac- 
counts for  force  by  matter,  for  the  orderly  by  the 
unorderly,   for  the   organic  by  the   inorganic,  for 

General  Objections  to  Materialism.  141 

life  by  chemistry  and  mechanism,  for  thought, 
feeling,  and  volition,  by  molecular  motions  in  the 
brain  and  nerves.  It  assumes  that  this  is  the 
peculiarly  and  exclusively  scientific  method  of 
procedure.  But  the  assumption  is  unwarranted  so 
long  as  the  anti-materialist  can  argue  on  rational 
grounds  that  this  so-called  scientific  procedure  is 
a  continuous  violation  of  the  principle  of  causality. 
And  this,  I  need  scarcely  say,  is  precisely  what 
the  anti-materialist  maintains.  He  undertakes  to 
show  that,  at  every  fresh  stage  in  the  materialistic 
course  of  explanation,  there  is  more  in  the  alleged 
effect  than  in  the  assigned  cause,  or,  in  other 
words,  that  there  is  something  in  the  so-called 
effect  which  is  traced  to  no  cause,  and  conse- 
quently, that  something  is  implied  to  be  produced 
by  nothing.  Materialism  professes  to  accept  the 
axiom  that  "nothing  comes  from  nothing"  more 
strictly  than  any  other  system ;  but  its  critics 
complain  that  the  principle  of  which  it  makes  the 
most  frequent  application  is  that  the  greater  may 
be  caused  by  the  less — that  something  may  come 
from  nothing.  The  materialist  declares  his  in- 
ability to  believe  in  creation  by  the  infinite  power 
of  an  infinite  mind,  but  he  seems  to  his  opponents 
to  display  a  wonderful  capacity  for  believing  in  a 
whole  series  of  creations  out  of  nothing  and  by 
nothing.  It  is  not  for  me  to  pronounce  at  present 
whether   this   accusation   be   well   founded    or   ill 

142'  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

founded.  It  is  sufficient  for  my  immediate  pur- 
pose that  materialism  can  have  no  claim  to  be 
considered  scientific  until  the  charge  is  disproved. 
There  can  be  nothing  scientific  in  continuously 
violating  the  law  of  causality. 

Yet  some  persons  seem  to  see  nothing  irrational 
even  in  such  violation.  The  author  of  a  recently 
published  work,  entitled  '  A  Candid  Examination 
of  Theism ' — an  author  who  writes  under  the  iiom 
de  plume  of  "  Physicus  "  —  quotes  these  words  of 
Locke :  "  Whatsoever  is  first  of  all  things  must 
necessarily  contain  in  it,  and  actually  have,  at 
least,  all  the  perfections  that  can  ever  after  exist ; 
nor  can  it  ever  give  to  another  any  perfection  that 
it  hath  not  actually  in  itself,  or  at  least  in  a  higher 
degree  ;  it  necessarily  follows  that  the  first  eternal 
being  cannot  be  matter."  He  then  adds,  "Now, 
as  this  presentation  is  strictly  formal,  I  shall  meet 
it  with  a  formal  reply,  and  this  reply  consists  in 
a  direct  contradiction.  It  is  simply  untrue  that 
*  whatsoever  is  first  of  all  things  must  necessarily 
contain  in  it,  and  actually  have,  at  least,  all  the  per- 
fections that  can  ever  after  exist ; '  or  that  it  can 
never  '  give  to  another  any  perfection  that  it  hath 
not  actually  in  itself.'  In  a  sense,  no  doubt,  a 
cause  contains  all  that  is  contained  in  its  effects ; 
the  latter  content  being  potentially  present  in  the 
former.  But  to  say  that  a  cause  already  contains 
actually  all  that  its  effects  may  afterwards  so  con- 

General  Objections  to  Alaterialisin.  143 

tain,  is  a  statement  which  logic  and  common-sense 
ahke  condemn  as  absurd."  —  (P.  21.)  Indeed! 
The  affirmation  of  Locke  which  is  here  met  with 
a  "direct  contradiction,"  and  pronounced  "simply 
untrue,"  may  not  have  been  unexceptionably  ex- 
pressed, but  it  just  means  that  every  cause  must 
be  a  sufficient  cause,  —  that  a  weight  of  four 
pounds,  for  example,  cannot  balance  one  of  ten 
pounds  ;  and  he  who  meets  it  with  a  direct  con- 
tradiction needs,  of  course,  no  contradiction,  espe- 
cially if  he  has  failed  to  perceive  that  a  cause  is 
only  a  cause  in  so  far  as  it  displays  actual  power 
and  perfection.  It  is  curious,  however,  that  the 
writer  mentioned  should  be  able  to  quote  an  ar- 
gument to  the  same  effect  from  Mr  J.  S.  Mill's 
'  Essay  on  Theism.'  We  there  read  :  "  Apart  from 
experience,  and  arguing  on  what  is  called  reason 
— that  is,  on  supposed  self-evidence — the  notion 
seems  to  be  that  no  causes  can  give  rise  to  pro- 
ducts of  a  more  precious  or  elevated  kind  than 
themselves.  But  this  is  at  variance  with  the 
known  analogies  of  nature. .  How  vastly  nobler 
and  m.ore  precious,  for  instance,  are  the  vegetables 
and  animals  than  the  soil  and  manure  out  of 
which,  and  by  the  properties  of  which,  they  are 
raised  up  !  The  tendency  of  all  recent  speculation 
is  towards  the  opinion  that  the  development  of 
inferior  orders  of  existence  into  superior,  the  sub- 
stitution of  greater  elaboration  and  higher  organ- 

144  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

isation  for  lower,  is  the  general  rule  of  nature. 
Whether  this  is  so  or  not,  there  are  at  least  in 
nature  a  multitude  of  facts  bearing  that  character, 
and  this  is  sufficient  for  the  argument." — (P.  152.) 
One  asks  with  astonishment,  Is  it  really  meant  to 
be  said  that  vegetables  and  animals  are  wholly 
caused  by  soil  and  manure }  Have  the  sun  and 
parent  vegetables  and  animals,  and  many  other 
adjacent  and  antecedent  agencies,  contributed 
nothing  to  their  perfections  t  No  sane  person  has 
ever  fancied  that  there  may  not  be  more  in  an 
effect  than  in  any  of  its  partial  causes.  The  ques- 
tion is,  Can  there  be  more  in  an  effect  than  in  its 
complete  cause,  whether  that  be  a  single  cause  or 
the  sum  of  a  multitude  of  partial  causes  .?  Reason 
affirms  it  to  be  self-evident  that  there  cannot,  and 
not  a  fact  or  analogy  in  nature  is  at  variance  with 
the  affirmation.  The  latest  and  most  elaborate 
result  of  development  can  have  no  perfection 
which  it  has  not  derived  from  some  of  the  agents 
which  have  concurred  in  its  formation.  But  what- 
soever is  first  of  all  things  must  be  the  whole  cause 
of  all  things.  Secondary  causes  cannot  add  to 
what  it  contributes,  since  they  only  impart  of  what 
they  have  themselves  received  from  it.  Therefore 
it  must  necessarily  contain  in  itself  all  the  perfec- 
tions that  can  ever  after  exist.  To  deny  this  is 
wholly  to  set  aside  the  law  of  causality.  It  is  not 
what  "Physicus"  calls  it,  a  "childishly  easy  refuta- 

General  Objections  to  Materialism.  145 

tion  "  of  Locke's  argument,  but   it   is  childish   in 
every  respect. 

The  materiahst  believes  that  he  takes  up  a 
specially  respectful  attitude  towards  science,  and 
defers  more  to  its  teaching  than  does  the  theist. 
But  this,  again,  is  what  cannot  be  granted.  The 
materialist  goes  to  science  with  a  theory  which  he 
ought  to  be  content  to  derive  from  it,  and  which 
must  make  it  impossible  for  him  to  study  such 
departments  of  knowledge  as  psycholgoy,  ethics, 
and  history  —  not  to  speak  of  theology  —  in  an 
unprejudiced  and  liberal  manner.  He  cannot  but 
be  as  incapable  of  impartiality  in  estimating  the 
teachings  of  the  mental  sciences  as  the  idealist  in 
judging  of  the  doctrines  of  the  physical  sciences. 
The  theist,  in  reality,  occupies  a  far  more  advan- 
tageous position.  He  can  be  both  just  and  def- 
erential alike  towards  the  physical  and  mental 
sciences ;  he  is  committed  to  no  one  mode  of  ex- 
plaining phenomena  ;  he  is  bound  to  accept  the 
facts  and  laws  of  all  science  just  as  science  gives 
them  ;  and  when  science  shows  him  that  God  has 
operated  in  nature,  mind,  or  history,  otherwise 
than  he  imagined,  he  can,  without  having  any 
reason  to  be  ashamed,  because  in  perfect  consis- 
tency with  his  principles,  modify  his  theology  in 
accordance  with  the  new  information  which  he  has 
received.  If  force  be  not  explicable  by  matter — 
the  living  by  the  dead — species   by  evolution — 


146  Anti-Theisiic  Theories. 

mental  phenomena  by  physical  properties, — mate- 
rialism must  be  erroneous.  Were  all  these  posi- 
tions proved,  theism  would  not  be  disproved. 

The  view  which  is  expressly  maintained  by 
some,  and  tacitly  assumed  by  many  materialists 
—the  view  that  only  explanations  which  can  be 
subjected  to  the  verification  of  the  senses,  or  repre- 
sented in  imagination  as  processes  which  the  senses 
might  trace  if  their  powers  were  sufficiently  magni- 
fied, are  truly  scientific — is  also  untenable.  Genu- 
ine explanation  requires,  of  course,  definite  thought, 
and  is  generally  attained  in  regard  to  physical 
things  only  with  the  discovery  of  exact  quanti- 
tative relations  ;  but  thought,  which  merely  recalls 
or  represents  sense,  is  seldom  definite,  and  even  in 
physical  investigation  the  path  of  progress  is  from 
sense  towards  pure  thought.  Scientific  comprehen- 
sion is  only  attained  when  intelligence  has  got 
beyond  figurate  or  pictorial  conception,  and  has 
freed  itself  from  the  material  and  sensuous  elements 
contained  in  immediate  perception.  Scarcely  any 
cause  has  had  a  more  perverting  influence  on  the 
study  of  mental  and  moral  facts  than  the  bias 
which  the  mind  derives  from  its  familiar  converse 
with  the  objects  of  sense  to  assimilate  all  other 
objects  to  these,  and  to  think  of  them  under  mate- 
rial categories,  or  according  to  material  analogies. 
The  philosopher  and  the  theologian  require  to  be 
constantly  on  their  guard  against  being  deluded 

General  Objections  to  Mater ialisni.  147 

by  the  subtle  operation  of  the  same  cause,  seeing 
that  a  multitude  of  religious  and  speculative  be- 
liefs which  reason  must  reject  flow  from  this 
source.  Materialism  undoubtedly  owes  much  of 
its  success  to  habitually  addressing  the  mind  in 
figurate  language  and  through  sensuous  imagery. 
Instead  of  convincing  the  understanding  by  strictly 
relevant  reasons,  it  meets  at  one  and  the  same 
time  its  craving  for  satisfaction,  and  its  aversion 
to  exertion,  by  hypotheses  agreeable  to  the  ima- 
gination, because  capable  of  being  easily  repre- 
sented in  a  pictorial  or  sensuous  form.  But  in  the 
eyes  of  thoughtful  men,  this,  the  great  secret  of  its 
power,  is  an  evidence  of  its  scientific  worthlessness. 
Materialism  must  ever  be  plausible  to  the  popular 
understanding,  but  simply,  so  its  opponents  think, 
because  it  is  content  to  stop  short  at  the  plausible 
and  popular. 


Thus  far  I  have  only  dealt  with  the  generalities 
of  materialism.  It  is  now  necessary  to  come  to 

The  materialist  supposes  that  there  is  a  matter 
which  precedes  every  form  of  mind,  and  exists 
independently  of  all  thought.  But  can  he  prove 
this  t  It  requires  to  be  proved,  because  it  seems 
to   many  untrue,  and   even   contradictory.      Mere 

148  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

matter— matter  in  itself— matter  as  an  exclusively 
objective  fact,  or  as  wholly  independent  of  intelli- 
gence,— is,  they  hold,  unknown  and  unknowable 
matter.  It  is  no  more  possible,  so  they  tell  us,  to 
think  of  such  matter  than  to  think  of  a  centreless 
circle,  or  a  stick  with  merely  one  end.  The  only 
matter  which  by  any  stretch  of  mind  can  be  con- 
ceived or  imagined  as  even  a  possible  object  of 
knowledge, — thus  runs  the  averment, — is  matter 
which  is  not  alone,  but  accompanied  by  mind  ; 
matter  which  is  relative  to  and  dependent  on 
mind.  But  if  this  be  true,  on  what  ground  can 
the  materialist  maintain  that  there  is  any  such 
thing  as  the  matter  of  which  he  talks  1  If  that 
which  he  represents  as  the  sum  and  substance  and 
explanation  of  all  existences  is  an  absolute  con- 
tradiction in  thought,  what  authority  has  he  for 
attributing  to  it  real  being  and  wonderful  powers  ^ 
If  matter  is  never  known  and  cannot  be  known 
to  have  an  independent  existence,  how  does  he 
reach  the  conclusion  that  it  has  an  independent 
existence } 

This  argument,  familiar  to  the  students  of  Pro- 
fessor Ferrier's  '  Institutes  of  Metaphysic,'  com- 
pletely blocks  the  path  of  the  materialist,  so  that 
he  must  remove  it  before  he  can  proceed.  Now 
I  pronounce  no  opinion  on  the  absolute  validity 
of  the  argument.  It  signifies  not  for  my  present 
purpose  whether  it  proves  merely  the  truism  that 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  149 

matter  cannot  be  known  without  a  mind  to  know 
it,  or  conclusively  demonstrates  that  matter  cannot 
exist  without  some  mind  to  perceive  or  think  of 
it.  It  is  sufficient  to  remark  that  there  appears  to 
be  but  one  way  by  which  it  may  conceivably  be 
shown  that  the  argument  does  not  establish  all 
that  it  was  meant  to  do,  and  that  this  way  is 
clearly  not  open  to  the  materialist.  Although  the 
knowledge  of  matter  must  always  be  accompanied 
by  a  knowledge  of  mind,  matter  and  mind  may, 
with  at  least  an  appearance  of  reason,  be  argued 
to  be  known  as  distinct  and  independent,  and 
therefore,  to  be  distinct  and  independent.  But 
the  materialist  is  obviously  precluded  from  thus 
arguing,  because  his  materialism  necessarily  in- 
volves sensationalism,  and  sensationalism  neces- 
sarily signifies  that  all  knowledge  of  matter  is 
dependent  on  the  particular  constitution  of  the 
senses  of  the  individual.  Matter  can  be  for  the 
materialist  merely  what  it  is  felt  to  be,  or  what 
it  is  imagined  to  be  in  consequence  of  being  felt. 
He  cannot  consistently  pretend  to  any  knowledge 
of  it  as  it  is  in  itself,  or  to  any  knowledge  of  its 
properties  as  independent  objective  facts.  The 
doctrine  of  real  presentationism  is  incompatible 
with  a  materialistic  theory  of  the  nature  of  know- 
ledge ;  and  yet,  where  this  doctrine  is  not  main- 
tained, matter  cannot  even  be  seriously  argued  to 
precede  or  to  exist  apart  from  mind. 

150  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

The  materialist,  then,  supposes  that  there  exists 
a  matter  which  is  merely  objective  or  entirely  in- 
dependent of  thought ;  but  he  has  no  reply  to  give 
to  any  one  who  maintains  that  he  can  only  know 
matter  as  that  which  is  inseparably  associated  with 
mind,  and  essentially  dependent  upon  thought, 
or,  in  other  words,  that  the  matter  by  which  he 
pretends  to  explain  intelligence  is  matter  which 
presupposes  intelligence.  He  thus  starts  with  a 
fatal  self-contradiction,  from  which  he  cannot  free 
himself  by  any  alteration  or  amendment  of  his 
views  of  matter  short  of  entire  renunciation  of  the 
doctrine  that  matter  is  the  absolute  first  of  exist- 
ence— the  original  of  all  things.  He  may  cease  to 
think  of  matter  per  se  as  possessed  of  definiteness 
and  form — he  may  drop  out  of  his  conception  of 
it  one  distinctive  property  after  another — he  may 
resolve  it  into  conditioned,  and  even  into  uncon- 
ditioned force, — but  the  self-contradiction  will  cling 
to  him  at  the  last  as  firmly  as  at  the  first.  To  get 
rid  of  it  he  may  commit  mental  suicide  by  casting 
himself  into  the  abyss  of  the  "  unknowable  ; "  but  it 
will  hold  on  by  him  there  more  triumphantly  than 
ever,  and  will  not  be  shaken  off"  until  he  confess 
that  the  unknowable  is  at  least  known  not  to  be 
devoid  of  knowledge  any  more  than  of  force. 

Materialism,  I  remark  next,  affirms  that  matter 
is  eternal  without  justifying  the  assertion.  Mate- 
rialism is  manifestly  bound  to  prove  the  eternity 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  1 5 1 

of  matter,  since  all  that  is  distinctive  of  the  system 
rests  on  this  presupposition.  Unless  matter  be 
eternal  it  must  have  been  originated.  The  whole 
argumentation  of  the  theist  in  support  of  the  doc- 
trine of  the  Divine  existence  is  designed  to  show 
that  the  world  is  not  eternal,  not  self- existent. 
That  there  is  something  eternal  and  self-existent, 
the  atheist,  pantheist,  and  theist,  the  material- 
ist and  the  spiritualist,  agree  in  acknowledging. 
None  of  them  calls  upon  the  others  to  explain 
the  mystery  of  self- existence.  Every  sane  mind 
receives  that  mystery  and  credits  other  minds 
with  doing  the  same.  Doubt  and  difference  of 
opinion  are  only  possible  as  to  what  is  self-existent 
or  eternal.  Is  it  mind  or  matter,  personal  or  im- 
personal, knovvable  or  unknowable  t  The  theist 
believes  it  to  be  mind,  and  produces  what  he 
deems  relevant  and  conclusive  evidence  to  prove 
that  it  is  mind.  What  evidence  has  the  material- 
ist to  the  contrary,  and  for  believing  that  matter  is 
that  which  is  self-existent  and  eternal  1 

Many  materialists  have  the  candour  to  acknow- 
ledge that  they  have  none  whatever.  They  con- 
fess entire  ignorance  on  the  subject.  They  are 
ready  to  accept  as  a  true  statement  of  their  posi- 
tion that  made  by  Professor  Tyndall  on  a  cele- 
brated occasion.  "  If  you  ask  the  materialist 
whence  is  this  matter  of  which  we  have  been  dis- 
coursing, who  or  what  divided  it  into  molecules, 

152  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

who  or  what  impressed  upon  them  this  necessity 
of  running  into  organic  forms,  he  has  no  answer. 
Science  is  also  mute  in  reply  to  these  questions. 
But  if  the  materialist  is  confounded  and  science 
rendered  dumb,  who  else  is  entitled  to  answer.? 
To  whom  has  the  secret  been  revealed  t  Let  us 
lower  our  heads  and  acknowledge  our  ignorance, 
one  and  all.  Perhaps  the  mystery  may  resolve 
itself  into  knowledge  at  some  future  day.  The 
process  of  things  upon  this  earth  has  been  one  of 
amelioration.  It  is  a  long  way  from  the  iguanodon 
and  his  contemporaries  to  the  president  and  mem- 
bers of  the  British  Association.  And  whether  we 
regard  the  improvement  from  the  scientific  or  from 
the  theological  point  of  view,  as  the  result  of  pro- 
gressive development,  or  as  the  result  of  succes- 
sive exhibitions  of  creative  energy,  neither  view- 
entitles  us  to  assume  that  man's  present  faculties 
end  the  series — that  the  process  of  amelioration 
stops  at  him.  A  time  may  therefore  come  when 
this  ultra -scientific  region  by  which  we  are  now 
enfolded,  may  offer  itself  to  terrestrial,  if  not  to 
human,  investigation."  Now,  what  is  the  precise 
meaning  of  these  words  }  Is  it  not  that  although 
until  the  far-distant  future  age  arrives  when  there 
are  beings  on  the  earth  as  much  superior  to  the 
president  and  members  of  the  British  Association 
as  these  are  to  the  iguanodon  and  his  contempo- 
raries, no  reason  be  found  for  believing  that  matter 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  153 

is  eternal,  self-active,  and  endowed  with  the  pro- 
mise and  potency  of  all  order,  life,  and  thought, 
yet  men  may  even  now  speak  and  reason  as  if 
they  were  quite  certain  that  it  is  ?  But  surely,  if 
this  be  what  it  means,  "the  long  way  from  the 
iguanodon  and  his  contemporaries  to  the  presi- 
dent and  the  members  of  the  British  Association  " 
has  been  as  conspicuously  one  of  progress  in 
absurdity  as  in  science.  A  man  who  has 'no  rea- 
son for  believing  that  matter  is  eternal,  must  not 
merely  bow  his  head  and  acknowledge  his  igno- 
rance, but  he  must  cease  ascribing  eternity  to 
matter,  and  confess  that  he  has  no  right  to  be  a 
materialist.  If,  notwithstanding  his  avowed  igno- 
rance and  the  evidence  adduced  to  prove  matter 
created,  he  habitually  assumes  that  matter  is  eter- 
nal, what  else  can  be  said  than  that  he  arbitrar- 
ily chooses  to  believe  matter  eternal,  because  he 
would  otherwise  be  bound  to  believe  it  created } 

How  is  it  that  materialists  are  in  general  will- 
ing to  take  their  stand  in  such  a  position  ?  Is  it 
because  they  cannot  find  one  more  tenable  ?  In 
other  words,  is  it  because  the  only  reasons  that 
can  be  given  for  believing  matter  eternal  are 
worse  than  none }  Perhaps  it  is.  At  all  events, 
the  only  reasons  that  have  been  given  are  so  weak 
that  the  slightest  examination  is  sufficient  com- 
pletely to  discredit  them. 

A  German  materialist  (Dr  Lowenthal)  gives  the 

154  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

following  as  an  argument :  "  What  has  no  end  can 
have  no  beginning.     What  cannot  be   destroyed 
can  also  not  be  created.     Matter  cannot  be   de- 
stroyed, and  consequently  cannot  be  created  ;    it 
is   without   end,    and    therefore   likewise   without 
beginning — is  eternal."     But  what  right  can  any 
person  have  to  assume  that  "what  has  no  end  can 
have   no   beginning".^      The   words    I    have  just 
quoted  may  have  no  end,  but  certainly  they  had 
a  beginning  ;    they  may  be  eternal  a  parte  post 
although  they  were  not  eternal  a  parte  ante,  but 
originated  with  Dr  Lowenthal  on  a  definite  day 
not  many  years  ago.     The  assertion  that  "  matter 
cannot  be  destroyed"   needs  proof,  yet  receives 
none.     There  is  no  warrant  for  saying  more  than 
that  matter  cannot  be  destroyed  by  natural  powers 
and  processes.     There  can  be  no  warrant,  there- 
fore, for  inferring  more  than  that  matter  cannot 
be  created  by  natural  powers  and  processes.     But 
this   inference   is   scarcely   worth   the   trouble   of 
drawing.     It  is  unnecessary  to  take  any  round- 
about way  to  arrive  at  so  easily  accessible  a  truth 
as  that  matter  cannot  create  or  destroy  itself.    But 
the  gulf  between  this  plain  truth  and  the  assertion 
that  matter  cannot  be  created  or  destroyed  is  im- 
mense, although   materialists  have   pretended   to 
identify  them,  being  unable  to  find  a  passage  from 
the  one  to  the  other. 

Biichner,  Moleschott,  and  some  other  material- 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  1 5  5 

ists,  teach  that  physical  science  has  proved  that 
matter  is  absolutely  incapable  of  increase  or  dimi- 
nution, creation  or  annihilation.  Physical  science 
has  done  nothing  of  the  kind.  It  refuses  to  draw 
absolute  conclusions.  It  carefully  abides  within 
the  conditions  of  experience  and  experiment.  It 
certifies  that  matter  is  undestroyed  by  any  of  the 
processes  of  nature  or  any  of  the  arts  of  man,  and 
it  infers  that  what  has  not  destroyed  it  in  the  past 
will  not  destroy  it  in  the  future.  It  disowns,  how- 
ever, the  inference  that  matter  cannot  be  destroyed 
or  created  even  by  infinite  power.  It  cannot  afford 
so  glaringly  to  violate  the  laws  of  logic.  It  does 
not  pretend  to  be  able  to  tell  what  infinite  power 
can  do,  and  still  less  what  it  cannot  do. 

The  assertion  which  Biichner  and  Moleschott 
erroneously  represent  as  a  generalisation  of  science, 
Mr  Herbert  Spencer  far  more  erroneously  pro- 
nounces "  an  a  priori  cognition  of  the  highest 
order."  Of  course,  neither  this  nor  any  other 
cognition  of  matter  is  an  a  priori  cognition  even 
of  the  lowest  order.  Matter  is  only  known  a 
posteriori,  and  as  essentially  contingent.  No 
number  of  the  uniformities  of  experience  relative 
to  the  nature  and  properties  of  matter  has  been 
shown  to  produce  one  of  those  absolute  unifor- 
mities of  thought  which  are  entitled  to  be  called 
necessary  or  ct  priori  truths.  We  may  not  be  able 
to  conceive  a  process  of  creation,  the  manner  in 

156  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

which  the  quantity  of  matter  might  be  absolutely- 
increased,  nor  a  process  of  annihilation,  the  manner 
in  which  the  quantity  of  matter  might  be  abso- 
lutely diminished,  but  we  have  no  difficulty  in 
conceiving  that  there  should  be  more  or  less  mat- 
ter in  the  universe  than  there  is.  It  requires  no 
great  stretch  of  imagination  to  suppose  the  whole 
of  empty  space  filled  with  matter,  or  no  matter  at 
all  in  space.  He  who  denies  that  one  can  truly 
think  the  quantity  of  matter  to  be  increased  or 
diminished — that  one  can  believe  that  matter  has 
been  created  or  that  it  will  be  annihilated — has 
allowed  his  reason  to  be  too  much  influenced  by 
the  impressions  of  sense,  and  has  signally  confused 
empirical  generalisation  with  necessary  truth. 

The  reason  most  commonly  given  for  regarding 
matter  as  eternal  is  that  iti  creation  is  inconceiv- 
able. Is,  then,  creation  inconceivable  1  Not  in  the 
sense  of  essentially  unthinkable, — not  in  the  sense 
that  a  centreless  circle  or  triangular  square  cannot 
be  conceived, — not  in  the  only  sense  which  would 
fix  creation  down  as  impossible.  Is  it  even  incon- 
ceivable in  the  sense  of  necessarily  unimaginable 
by  the  human  mind  }  It  may  be  so.  Perhaps 
the  mind  of  man  with  its  present  faculties  could 
not  be  made  to  comprehend  the  nature  of  an  act 
of  creation.  But  we  have  no  right  to  affirm  that 
such  is  the  case.  Its  proof  would,  in  fact,  require 
the  very  knowledge  which   is   pronounced   to   be 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  157 

unattainable.  If  the  mind  cannot  prove  creation 
to  be  inherently  absurd  or  self  -  contradictory,  it 
cannot  be  entitled  to  pronounce  it  unknowable  ; 
for  it  knows  no  other  unknowable  than  the  absurd, 
and  it  can  have  no  right  to  affirm  anything  to  be 
unknowable  which  it  does  not  know  to  be  so.  To 
know  anything  to  be  unknowable  is  a  self-contra- 
diction, unless  by  the  unknowable  is  meant  merely 
the  self-contradictory.  We  certainly  know  far  too 
little  about  the  nature  of  matter — if  there  be  any 
matter  except  the  manifestation  of  force  to  mind — 
to  assert  that  we  could  not  be  made  to  understand 
its  creation.  We  are  merely  entitled  to  say  that 
we  do  not  understand  it,  and  cannot  understand 
it  until  our  knowledge  of  the  nature  of  matter  is 
greatly  increased.  The  inconceivability  of  crea- 
tion is,  in  fact,  no  real  unthinkableness,  but  the 
natural  effect  of  a  weakness  of  imagination  w-hich 
is  amply  explained  by  inexperience  and  igno- 
rance. It  is  no  reason  whatever  for  setting  aside 
the  arguments  urged  by  the  theist  in  favour  of 
the  belief  in  creation.  The  materialist  himself 
believes  in  a  multitude  of  facts  which  are  in  the 
same  sense  equally  inconceivable. 

It  may  be  remarked,  in  the  next  place,  that 
materialism  is  inconsistent  with  its  own  theory  of 
knowledge.  It  implies  that  all  knowledge  is  ob- 
tained through  the  bodily  organs  of  sense  ;  that 
we  know  nothing  except  what  our  senses  tell  us  ; 

158  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

that  the  limits  of  sensible  experience  are  the  limits 
of  knowledge.  Yet  it  starts,  and  necessarily  starts, 
with  assertions  manifestly  at  variance  with  this 
doctrine.  It  affirms  either  the  existence  of  atoms 
or  the  infinite  divisibility  of  matter.  Have  atoms 
ever  been  reached  by  any  sense  t  No,  they  are 
inaccessible  to  sense.  Can  sense  prove  the  infinite 
divisibility  of  matter  t  No  ;  the  very  notion  of 
sense  possessing  such  a  power  is  absurd.  Then, 
matter  is  affirmed  to  be  eternal.  But  is  eternity 
an  object  of  sense }  Has  any  materialist  seen  or 
touched  eternity .''  Has  any  creature  ever  had  an 
eternal  sensation  t  Again,  no.  The  very  men 
who  assert  that  matter  is  eternal  are  found  at 
other  times  assuring  us  that  we  have  no  idea  of 
eternity,  on  the  ground  that  all  our  knowledge  is 
derived  from  sensation.  What  sort  of  system  is  it, 
however,  which  is  thus  inconsistent  and  self-con- 
tradictory at  its  very  foundation  t  Surely  it  is  one 
little  entitled  to  be  considered  either  satisfactory 
or  scientific. 

Again,  materialism,  as  I  have  already  indicated, 
has  no  reasonable  account  to  give  us  of  force.  It 
is  not  required,  of  course,  to  give  us  an  account 
of  the  absolute  nature  of  force  in  itself  Force 
is  known  only  through  its  effects  —  only  from 
experience.  More,  therefore,  is  not  asked  from 
materialism  than  that  it  shall  give  an  intelligible, 
non-contradictory  view  of  the  relation  of  force  to 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  159 

matter.  But  instead  of  meeting  this  demand  it 
represents  their  relationship  only  in  ways  which 
reason  and  science  refuse  to  sanction.  The  ma- 
jority of  materialists  assert  that  force  is  inherent 
in  matter ;  that  matter  is  essentially  active  ;  that 
matter  and  force  are  inseparable,  and  have  co- 
existed from  all  eternity.  But  this  assertion  is 
the  denial  of  a  fundamental  law  of  physical  science 
— the  law  stated  by  Newton  in  the  words,  "  Every 
body  perseveres  in  its  state  of  rest  or  of  moving 
uniformly  in  a  straight  line,  except  in  so  far  as  it 
is  made  to  change  that  state  by  external  forces." 
This  law  is  conclusively  proved,  both  experimen- 
tally and  by  the  consequences  involved  in  deny- 
ing it.  If  true,  however,  matter  is  in  itself  inert, 
inactive,  without  power  of  originating  motion  or 
producing  change;  and  the  view  of  the  relation  of 
matter  and  force,  assumed  as  axiomatically  evi- 
dent by  a  host  of  materialists,  is  anti-scientific  and 
erroneous  in  the  highest  degree.  If  true,  the  argu- 
ment of  Aristotle  for  a  first  mover  is  plainly  a 
very  strong  one.  If  a  body  cannot  move  itself  it 
must  be  moved  by  a  cause  distinct  from  itself,  and 
this  external  cause,  if  a  body,  must  be  moved  by 
another  cause,  and  so  on  in  a  regress  which,  not  to 
be  ad  infinittim,  must  end  in  a  cause  which  is  self- 
acting,  and  consequently  not  a  body.  It  has  been 
attempted  to  meet  this  argument  by  affirming  that 
matter  is  endowed  with  a  property  of  attraction. 

i6o  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

in  virtue  of  which,  while  each  separate  molecule 
of  matter  is  inert,  two  molecules  are  active,  each 
being  a  cause   of  motion  in  the  other.     But  the 
reply  is   inadequate,  as  it  ignores  two  important 
considerations.     The  first   is,  that  inertia  and  at- 
traction are  not  facts  of  the  same  rank  or  value. 
Inertia  is   presupposed   in   all  the  phenomena  of 
attraction,  is  implied   in  every  correct  conception 
of  mechanical  motion,  and  can  clearly  neither  be 
eliminated  from  the  notion  of  matter  nor  reduced 
to   any  simpler   property  of  matter.     Attraction, 
on  the  other  hand,  as  a  cause   of  gravity,  as  an 
efficient  property  of  matter,  is  an  occult  and  hypo- 
thetical quality,  in  the  existence  of  which  few  men 
of  science  very  seriously  believe,   although  they 
feel  themselves  incompetent  to  displace  it  by  any 
more  plausible  conjecture.     The  vast  majority  of 
physicists  will   readily  subscribe  Newton's  words 
to  Bentley:  "You  sometimes  speak  of  gravity  as 
essential  and   inherent  to  matter.      Pray,  do  not 
ascribe  that  notion  to  me  ;  for  the  cause  of  gravity 
is  what  I  do  not  pretend  to  know."     Many  of  them 
will  not  refuse   assent  even  to  his  much  stronger 
statement:    "That  gravity  should   be  innate,  in- 
herent, and  essential  to  matter,  so  that  one  body 
may  act  upon   another  at  a  distance   through  a 
vacuum,  without  the  m.ediation  of  anything  else, 
by  and  through  which  their  action  and  force  may 
be  conveyed  from  one  to  another,  is  to  me  so  great 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  i6r 

an  absurdity,  that  I  believe  no  man  who  has  in 
philosophical  matters  a  competent  faculty  of  think- 
ing, can  ever  fall  into  it."  -  The  materialist  is  not 
entitled,  then,  to  assume  that  the  phenomena 
ascribed  to  attraction  will  not  in  process  of  time 
be  explained  by  the  general  laws  of  motion.  Let 
us  suppose,  however,  that  attraction,  instead  of 
being  thus  proved  to  be  a  useless  fiction,  is  ascer- 
tained to  be  a  real  property  and  efficient  cause. 
What  is  it  precisely  that  in  this  case  has  been 
established  .''  Only  my  second  consideration  — 
only  a  conclusion  which  materialism  cannot  ac- 
cept. Matter  is  thereby  proved  to  be  a  something 
which  cannot  have  its  reason  of  existence  in  itself. 
No  molecule,  on  this  supposition,  is  what  it  is,  or 
is  moved  as  it  is,  of  itself  The  cause  of  the  posi- 
tion and  state  of  each  molecule  is  out  of  itself  in 
all  the  other  molecules.  This  dependence  of  each 
upon  all  must  have  a  reason  which  embraces  all, 
yet  which  can  neither  be  in  the  parts,  since  each 
part  is  dependent — nor  in  the  whole,  since  it  can 
have  nothing  which  it  has  not  derived  from  the 
parts  w^hich  compose  it. 

The  hypothesis  that  matter  is  essentially  active 
seems  not  to  be  tenable.  Is  there  any  more  plaus- 
ible view  as  to  the  relation  of  matter  to  force 
which  the  materialist  can  adopt }  Apparently 
not.      The  conjecture  which  has  sometimes  been 


1 62  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

thrown  out,  and  which  Dr  Lowenthal  has  deliber- 
ately adopted — that  force  is  not  essential  to  matter, 
but  the  result  of  its  aggregation — is  too  ridiculous 
for  discussion.  Force  can  no  more  be  accounted 
for  by  aggregation  than  the  strength  of  a  horse 
can  be  accounted  for  by  the  motion  of  the  cart 
which  it  draws.  Aggregation  presupposes,  and 
therefore  cannot  explain,  force.  But  no  other 
supposition  appears  to  remain  except  that  matter 
has  the  power  of  putting  itself  in  motion,  —  has 
in  some  degree  the  faculty  of  volition  or  self- 
determination.  This,  the  supposition  which  Epi- 
curus and  Lucretius  adopted,  is  growing  in  favour 
with  modern  materialists.  Anthropomorphism  in 
physics  was  probably  never  more  prevalent  than 
at  present,  especially  among  those  who  denounce 
anthropomorphism  in  theology.  Confidently  deny 
freewill  to  man  and  confidently  ascribe  it  to 
atoms,  and  you  stand  a  good  chance  just  now  of 
being  widely  acknowledged  as  a  great  physical 
philosopher,  and  are  sure  at  least  of  being  hon- 
oured as  an  "advanced  thinker."  But  nonsense 
does  not  cease  to  be  nonsense  when  it  becomes 
popular.  The  notion  of  an  atom  of  matter  putting 
itself  in  motion  is  a  still  more  glaring  contradiction 
of  the  law  of  inertia  than  an  atom  eternally  and 
necessarily  active.  It  also  confounds  matter  and 
mind,  and  even  nature  and  miracle.  It  may  be 
taught  as  a  truth   of  physical   science,  but  it  is 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  163 

in  reality  a  delusion  due  to  metaphysical   night- 
mare.^ '' 

Further,  materialism  leaves  unexplained  and 
inexplicable  the  order,  laws,  and  harmony  in 
nature.  Material  elements  chaotically  combined 
and  material  forces  working  blindly,  atoms  jostling 
together  at  random  and  powers  unconditioned  and 
uncorrelated  by  intelligence  with  a  view  to  an  end, 
cannot  be  rationally  thought  of  as  producing  these 
things.  The  universe  is  a  result  which  implies 
that  its  hosts  of  constituents  have  been  prepared 
and  arranged,  and  that  the  hosts  of  forces  associ- 
ated with  them  have  been  directed  and  marshalled, 
by  a  Divine  Intelligence.  Order  universally  reigns, 
where  elements  out  of  which  confusion  might  have 
arisen  and  might  still  arise  are  present  and  abun- 
dant ;  all  things  proceed  under  the  influence  of 
laws,  unfailing  and  unerring,  which  apply  at  once 
to  the  minutest  part  and  to  the  mightiest  whole  ; 
contingencies  are  constantly  provided  for  by  a 
system  of  compensations  of  the  most  elaborate 
and  exquisite  description  ;  and  of  these  facts,  as 
I  endeavoured  to  show  when  treating  of  the  design 
argument,  the  materialist  can  either  give  no  ex- 
planation or  devises  explanations  which  are  futile 
in  the  extreme. 

Is  life  also  a  fact  which  presents  a  problem  that 
materialism  cannot  solve }     Is  there  a  chasm  be- 

^  See  Appendix  XVI. 

164  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

tween  the  dead  and  the  living  which  cannot  be 
bridged  over  by  mere  matter  and  its  laws  ?  The 
debate  on  this  question  is  at  present  so  extremely 
keen  that  its  importance  in  a  religious  reference  is, 
it  seems  to  me,  in  danger  of  being  exaggerated. 
Materialism  must  be  refuted  before  we  reach  this 
point,  if  it  is  ever  to  be  refuted.  Were  sponta- 
neous generation  proved,  materialism  would  re 
main  as  far  from  established  as  before.  Those 
who  are  certain  that  there  is  a  God  may  with 
perfect  composure  leave  it  to  science  to  ascertain 
under  what  conditions  He  has  caused  life  to  ap- 
pear. In  fact,  the  question  as  to  the  mode  of  the 
origination  of  life,  although  of  immense  scientific 
interest,  is  of  very  subordinate  religious  signifi- 
cance. It  is,  further,  a  question  which  is  often 
answered  in  a  dogmatic  and  anti-scientific  spirit. 
Many  assert  that  it  is  absolutely  impossible  that 
life  should  originate  from  the  interaction  of  mo- 
lecular forces,  while  materialists  in  general  de- 
mand that  the  contrary  should  be  conceded  from 
the  outset.  Both  parties  are  in  error.  We  can- 
not tell  what  is  possible  or  impossible  in  such  a 
case,  prior  to  a  comprehensive  knowledge,  such  as 
science  seeks  to  attain,  of  all  that  actually  is.  We 
have  even  no  right,  it  seems  to  me,  either  to  deny 
or  to  admit  that  it  is  conceivable  that  under  cer- 
tain conditions  life  may  originate  in  inorganic 
matter.     Our  power  of  conception    is   dependent 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  165 

on  our  means  of  conception,  our  data,  our  ac- 
quaintance with  relevant  facts.  What  we  cannot 
conceive  to-day  science  may  make  conceivable  to- 
morrow ;  but  we  must  not  anticipate  to-day  what 
belongs  to  to-morrow. 

Let  us  appeal,  then,  merely  to  facts  and  science. 
Do  they  afford  any  grounds  for  the  materialistic 
explanation  of  the  origin  of  life }  Certainly  not. 
So  far  as  our  knowledge  extends,  there  is  not  a 
single  fact  to  warrant  the  hypothesis  that  life  has 
originated  from  mere  matter,  from  what  is  inert 
and  inactive.  The  spontaneous  generation  of  life 
from  the  lifeless  has  often  been  asserted,  and  has 
sometimes  been  attempted  to  be  proved,  but  un- 
doubtedly the  verdict  of  science  is  that  organisms 
arise  only  from  organisms,  that  life  is  only  pro- 
duced by  that  which  lives.  Endeavours  like  those 
of  Crosse,  and  Pouchet,  and  Bastian,  to  establish 
the  contrary,  have  only  demonstrated  their  own 
futility,  and  increased  the  probability  that  oijiui 
viviini^^-^^  vivo  is  a  law  of  nature  which  has  no 
exceptions.  No  man  has  ever  changed  any  in- 
organic matter  into  a  living  vegetable  without  the 
help  of  a  pre-existing  vegetable  germ  ;  nor  vege- 
table matter  into  animal,  without  an  animal  germ. 
All  known  facts  give  their  testimony  against  spon- 
taneous generation. 

Further,  the  phenomena  of  life  are  very  peculiar 
and   quite    unexplained    by   the    mechanics    and 

1 66  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

chemistry  of  matter.  In  every  living  thing,  for 
example,  there  is  a  working  as  a  whole,  and  a 
working  from  within,  and  a  working  to  an  end,  to 
which  we  see  nothing  similar  in  the  merely  inor- 
ganic world.  Crystals  display  geometrical  regu- 
larity and  symmetry  and  variety  of  species  or 
type,  but,  as  Miiller  says,  "  There  is  in  the  crystal 
no  relation  between  its  configuration  and  the  ac- 
tivity of  the  whole."  It  has  the  unity  which  results 
from  juxtaposition  and  arrangement,  but  in  no 
degree  the  unity  of  reciprocal  action  and  influence 
which  belongs  alike  to  the  simplest  and  the  most 
complex  of  living  beings.  In  every  plant  and 
animal  the  whole  is  not  merely  composed  of  the 
parts,  but  acts  as  a  whole  through  and  by  its  parts, 
each  part  needing,  conditioning,  and  influencing 
the  whole,  and  the  whole  needing,  conditioning, 
and  influencing  the  parts.  In  the  inorganic  world 
forces  are  never  seen  acting  thus,  and  nothing  that 
we  know  of  the  inorganic  powers  of  nature  can 
reasonably  lead  us  to  suppose  that  they  are  ca- 
pable of  acting  thus.  Again,  all  dead  bodies  are 
wholly  passive,  wholly  subject  to  the  physical  and 
chemical  forces  which  act  upon  them,  entirely 
moved  from  without ;  but  all  living  beings,  so  far  as 
observation  extends,  are  only  partially  subject  to 
these  forces,  displaying  in  addition  a  certain  power 
of  suspending  or  modifying  their  operations,  of 
employing  them  instead  of  obeying  them,  of  acting 

special  Objections  to  Matcrialisvi.  167 

from  within  as  well  as  of  being  acted  on  from 
without.  In  this  respect  every  living  plant  and 
animal  is  unlike  every  dead  plant  and  animal,  and 
every  inorganic  object.  Now,  how  can  this  power 
of  acting  from  within,  —  one  to  which  there  is 
nothing  properly  analogous  in  lifeless  matter, — 
come  from  without,  from  lifeless  matter.^  How 
can  mechanical  and  chemical  forces  result  in  a 
force  which  resists  and  rules  themselves,  and  which 
enables  that  which  possesses  it  to  act  of  and  for 
itself, — in  a  faculty  of  adaptation  to  circumstances, 
of  selective  assimilation,  growth,  inherent  renewal, 
and  reproduction }  Further,  all  that  is  living  is, 
what  nothing  that  is  dead  is,  an  end  unto  itself 
A  living  being  is  no  mere  mean,  but  to  a  large 
extent  an  immanent  whole — that  is,  one  which  has 
its  reason  of  being,  its  ends  of  action,  in  itself  It 
is  a  unity  of  which  all  the  elements,  parts,  and 
energies  are  co-ordinated  by  a  central  power  to 
its  self-preservation  and  self-perfection.  But  this 
implies  plan  and  purpose,  thought,  foresight,  and 
prophecy ;  and  how  are  these  to  be  accounted  for 
by  mere  matter  and  motion  } 

I  might  appropriately,  if  time  permitted,  confirm 
and  supplement  what  has  just  been  said,  by  point- 
ing out  in  the  processes  of  nutrition  and  growth, 
in  the  healing  and  repairing  of  injured  parts,  and 
in  propagation  or  reproduction,  a  number  of  dis- 
tinctive characteristics  which  seem  imperatively  to 

1 68  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

demand  for  their  explanation  more  than  merely 
mechanical  and  chemical  causes.  Enough  has 
been  said,  however,  I  hope,  to  show  that  when  Mr 
Spencer,  or  any  other  person,  tells  us  that  the 
argument  against  the  materialistic  hypothesis  of 
the  origin  of  life  is  one  in  which  ignorance  is  made 
to  do  the  part  of  knowledge,  he  gives  a  very  un- 
fair and  inadequate  view  of  it.  The  argument  is 
based,  first,  on  the  universal  and  uniform  experi- 
ence which  establishes  the  law  omne  vivum  ex  vivo; 
and  secondly,  on  what  observation  and  science  in- 
form us  are  the  properties  of  inorganic  powers  on 
the  one  hand,  and  the  distinctive  features  of  life 
on  the  other.  It  is,  consequently,  based  wholly 
on  knowledge.  And  it  is  an  argument  of  great 
strength,  completely  satisfying  all  the  requirements 
of  the  methods  both  of  agreement  and  of  difference. 
Like  all  other  arguments,  however,  as  to  the  laws 
of  nature,  it  does  not  demonstrate  the  impossibility 
— does  not  absolutely  exclude  the  possibility — 
that  the  law  may  in  some  unknown  case  or  cases 
not  have  held  good.  This  bare  possibility  Mr 
Spencer  and  the  materialists  eagerly  lay  hold  of, 
and  actually  oppose  and  prefer  to  the  positive 
argument.  Because  they  can  fancy  that  the 
powers  of  inorganic  nature  may  once  have  acted 
in  a  way  in  which  they  are  never  known  to  have 
acted,  and  in  which  they  certainly  never  act  now, 
they  conclude  that  these  powers  did  really  once 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  169 

act  in  that  exceptional,  not  to  say  miraculous, 
manner.  I  should  like  to  see  it  shown  that  tJiis  is 
not  to  make  ignorance  do  the  part  of  knowledge. 
In  my  opinion,  the  materialist  charges  upon  his 
opponent  the  vice  of  his  own  reasoning. 

But  recent  discoveries  of  science,  we  are  told, 
go  far  to  prove  that  there  is  no  such  chasm  as  is 
alleged  between  the  dead  and  the  living,  the  inor- 
ganic and  organic.  In  support  of  this  affirmation, 
however,  real  and  relevant  evidence  cannot  be 
found.  It  is  true  that  until  recently  many  chemists 
supposed  that  no  organic  substance  could  be  arti- 
ficially composed  from  inorganic  constituents,  and 
also  true  that  a  multitude  of  organic  substances 
have  now  been  so  formed.  The  inference  is  that 
chemists  may  err  and  may  have  their  errors  cor- 
rected by  experience  and  investigation,  but  cer- 
tainly not  that  a  single  forward  step  has  been 
taken  in  bridging  over  the  gulf  between  life  and 
death.  Suppose  every  organic  substance — even 
brain,  blood,  nerve,  albumen,  protoplasm  itself — 
to  be  resolved,  as  I  doubt  not  every  organic  sub- 
stance may  and  will  be  resolved,  into  inorganic 
elements,  and  what  follows  if  out  of  the  elements 
involved  no  substance  can  be  built  up  which  is  not 
dead,  not  one  which  manifests  a  single  vital  pro- 
perty }  Simply  that  there  is  nothing  even  in  the 
most  elaborate  organic  structures,  or  in  the  cor- 
poreal parts  and  elements  most  closely  associated 

170  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

with  vitality,  which  is  essentially  different  from 
mere  dust  of  the  earth  ;  that  the  entire  body  of 
man  himself  is  but  "dust  and  ashes,"  and  that 
when  you  reach  what  is  highest  and  most  admi- 
rable in  it,  the  border  of  the  gulf  between  matter 
and  the  living  soul  is  merely  touched.  How  can 
any  person  be  so  illogical  as  to  describe  this  as 
filling  up  or  bridging  over  the  gulf? 

The  assertion  sometimes  made  that  life  has 
been  proved  to  be  merely  a  form  of  mechanical 
and  chemical  force,  is  without  the  least  founda- 
tion. What  has  been  proved  is,  that  life  does  not 
create  force,  and  that  vital  actions  are  carried  on 
by  means  of  mechanical  and  chemical  forces.  Life 
has  been  shown  to  do  no  mechanical  or  chemical 
work  itself,  but  it  has  not  been  shown  that  it  does 
not  determine  the  direction  in  which  mechanical 
and  chemical  forces  work  when  they  are  within 
the  living  organism  ;  and  until  that  has  been 
shown,  nothing  has  been  done  to  prove  that  it 
does  not  perform  a  function  to  which  the  ordinary 
physical  powers  are  incompetent.  The  driver  of 
a  railway  train  does  not  add  to  the  force  generated 
in  its  engine,  but  he  has  notwithstanding  a  place 
and  use.  A  master  mason  may  expend  no  part 
of  his  strength  in  the  actual  construction  of  a 
house  while  he  is  superintending  his  labourers 
and  builders,  but  who  would  consider  the  proof 
of  that  to  be  equivalent  to  a  demonstration  that 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  1 7 1 

he  had  been  of  no  service,  or  was  even  a  purely 
mythical  personage  ? 

The  argument  from  evolution  to  spontaneous 
generation  is  clearly  not  a  strong  one.  The  former 
may  suggest  a  presumption  in  favour  of  the  latter, 
but  this  cannot  supply  the  place  of,  or  warrant  us 
to  dispense  with,  direct  and  positive  proof. 

Is  there  a  definite  boundary- line  between  the 
plant  and  the  animal  ?  Is  the  organic  world  divis- 
ible into  a  vegetable  and  animal  kingdom,  or  is 
there  an  intermediate  kingdom  protista  ?  These 
two  questions,  it  seems  to  me,  are  irrelevant  in  the 
materialistic  controversy,  and  it  is  to  be  regretted 
that  they  should  have  been  drawn  into  it,  espe- 
cially as  biology,  to  which  they  properly  belong, 
is  not  yet  prepared  to  give  them  definite  answers, 
and  the  danger  of  making  ignorance  do  the  part 
of  knowledge  in  discussing  them  is  extremely 

There  is,  then,  a  gulf  between  the  dead  and  the 
living  over  which  materialism  throws  no  bridge. 
Science  must  confess  that  it  needs  a  power  not 
present  in  matter  to  account  for  life. 

Mind,  I  remark  next,  presents  to  materialism  a 
still  greater  difficulty.  No  kind  of  reasonable  con- 
ception can  be  formed  of  a  process  by  which  mo- 
lecular changes  will  pass  into  or  produce  sensation, 
pleasure  or  pain,  perception,  memory,  judgment, 
^  See  Appendix  XVII. 

172  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

desire,  or  will.     This  objection  to  materialism  was 
admirably  put  by   Professor  Tyndall  —  in  words 
which  he  has  not  yet  retracted,  and  which  he  will 
find  it  hard  to  refute,  should  he  wish  to  do  so — 
when  he  wrote :  "  The  passage  from  the  physics  of 
the  brain  to  the  corresponding  facts  of  consciousness 
is  unthinkable.      Granted  that  a  definite  thought 
and  a  definite  molecular  action  in  the  brain  occur 
simultaneously  ;  we  do  not  possess  the  intellectual 
organ,  nor  apparently  any  rudiment  of  the  organ, 
which  would  enable  us  to  pass,  by  a  process  of 
reasoning,  from  the  one  phenomena  to  the  other. 
They  appear  together,  but  we  do  not  know  why. 
Were  our  minds  and  senses  so  expanded,  strength- 
ened, and  illuminated,  as  to  enable  us  to  see  and 
feel   the  very  molecules  of  the   brain;    were  we 
capable  of  following   all  their  motions,   all  their 
grouping,   all   their  electrical   discharges,  if  such 
there  be  ;  and  were  we  intimately  acquainted  with 
the  corresponding  states  of  thought  and  feeling, — 
we  should  probably  be  as  far  as  ever  from  the  solu- 
tion of  the  problem,  How  are  these  physical  pro- 
cesses connected  with  the  facts  of  consciousness .? 
The  chasm  between  the  two  classes  of  phenomena 
would  still  remain  intellectually  impassable."     Ma- 
terialism presents  itself  as  an  intelligible  theory  of 
the  universe,  and  yet  it  has  not  succeeded  in  ex- 
plaining a  single  fact  in  the  world  of  conscious- 
ness.    It  hopes  to  be  able  some  day  to  show  us 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  173 

future  Shakespeares  "potential  in  the  fires  of  the 
sun,"  but  as  yet  it  cannot  find  the  sensations  of  a 
protanioeba  even  in  its  own  protoplasm.^ 

There  are  two  other  objections  to  materialism 
which  are  as  strong  as  any  that  have  been  urged, 
but  which  I  must  be  content  merely  to  indicate. 

First,  then,  materialism  is  inconsistent  with  the 
testimony  of  our  moral  consciousness,  with  the 
facts  of  our  moral  nature.  We  perceive  a  distinc- 
tion between  right  and  wrong ;  we  feel  that  we  are 
free  to  choose  between  them  ;  that  we  are  respon- 
sible, however,  for  our  choice ;  that  we  are  praise- 
worthy or  blameworthy,  &c.  These  perceptions 
and  feelings  are  facts  as  certain  as  any  in  the 
world,  and  the  theory  which  cannot  honestly  ac- 
cept them  ought  to  be  rejected.  But  materiahsm 
cannot.  It  must  deny  them,  or  explain  them  away, 
or  invent  untenable  hypotheses  as  to  their  origin. 

Secondly,  materialism  refuses  satisfaction  to 
the  spiritual  wants,  aspirations,  and  convictions 
of  men.  It  denies  the  existence  of  God  and  of 
the  soul.  It  acknowledges  nothing  that  is  higher 
than  the  seen,  or  better  than  the  temporal.  It 
resolves  reliq-ion  in  all  its  len^^th  and  breadth  into 
a  delusion.  It  openly  threatens  to  turn  it  out  of 
the  w^orld.  But,  as  we  have  seen,  reason  and 
morality  are  to  be  turned  out  also.  Only  when 
reason,   morality,  and   religion  have  all  been  got 

^  See  Appendix  XVII L 

174  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

rid  of,  will  materialism   have  the  world  to  itself. 
And  then  the  world  will  not  be  worth  having.^ 

Let  me  conclude  by  entirely  dissenting  from 
words  of  Professor  Huxley,  which  I  have  already 
quoted  in  this  lecture.  His  assertion  that  "it  is 
utterly  impossible  to  prove  that  anything  what- 
ever may  not  be  the  effect  of  a  material  and  neces- 
sary cause,"  is  an  arbitrary  and  unphilosophical 
dogma  which  need  not,  however,  disquiet  us,  since 
up  to  the  present  hour  no  single  fact  of  order,  life, 
mind,  morality,  or  religion,  has  been  proved  to  be 
the  effect  of  a  material  cause.  His  assertion  that 
human  logic  is  incompetent  to  show  that  any  act 
is  really  spontaneous  has  no  other  ground  than 
his  strange  misconception  of  what  is  meant  by  a 
spontaneous  act, — than  the  fancy  that  "a  really 
spontaneous  act  is  one  which,  by  the  assumption, 
has  no  cause."  His  assertion  that  "any  one  who 
is  acquainted  with  the  history  of  science  will  ad- 
mit that  its  progress  has,  in  all  ages,  meant,  and 
now  more  than  ever  means,  the  extension  of  the 
province  of  what  we  call  matter  and  causation, 
and  the  concomitant  gradual  banishment  from  all 
regions  of  human  thought  of  what  we  call  spirit 
and  spontaneity,"  only  proves  that  he  is  more  a 
follower  of  Comte  than  he  is  himself  aware  of,  and 
has  incautiously  adopted  one  of  that  author's  most 
superficial  and  erroneous  generalisations.  His  pro- 
phecy as  to  the  future  would  have  been  differ- 
^  See  Appendix  XIX. 

special  Objections  to  Materialism.  175 

ent  if  he  had  studied  the  past  more  thoroughly 
and  independently,  although,  perhaps,  the  wisest 
course  would  have  been  not  to  prophesy  at  all. 
He  has  erred  in  thinking  that  it  is  the  progress  of 
materialism  which  alarms  its  opponents  ;  it  is  its 
spread — a  very  different  thing — which  alarms  them ; 
its  rapid  diffusion  when  it  is  making  no  real  pro- 
gress ;  the  humiliating  fact  that  so  many  not  un- 
educated persons  are  thoughtless  enough  to  believe 
its  proud  and  empty  promises,  although  there  are 
no  achievements  to  justify  them.  He  tells  us 
that  "  many  of  the  best  minds  of  these  days  watch 
what  they  conceive  to  be  the  progress  of  material- 
ism, in  such  fear  and  powerless  anger  as  a  savage 
feels  when,  during  an  eclipse,  the  great  shadow 
creeps  over  the  face  of  the  sun,"  I  thought  that 
during  an  eclipse  it  was  over  the  face  of  the  earth 
that  the  great  shadow  crept  ;  but  that  is  of  no 
consequence.  This  is,  that,  although  where  the 
shadow  of  materialism  creeps  there  may  be  many 
to  believe  that  there  is  no  sun,  the  sun  is  by  no 
means  affected  either  by  the  shadow  or  by  the 
foolish  unbelief  which  accompanies  it,  but  remains 
where  and  what  it  was,  and  when  the  shadow  is 
past  will  be  seen  to  be  bright,  beneficent,  mighty, 
and  terrible  as  ever.  They  who  believe  so  cannot 
crouch  and  tremble  before  a  shadow,  whatever 
those  may  do  who  believe  that  the  shadow  is  more 
than  a  shadow, — that  it  is  greater  than  the  sun, — 
that  it  will  be  eternal. 

1/6  Antl-Theistic  Theories, 

LECTURE    v. 



Positivism  is  to  be  the  subject  of  the  present 
lecture.  It  is  a  doctrine  which  is  closely  related 
both  in  history  and  character  to  scepticism  on 
the  one  hand,  and  to  materialism  on  the  other. 
It  owes  its  existence  to  the  partly  concurrent 
and  partly  counteractive  operation  of  these  two 
theories.  It  is  a  link  between  them ;  a  cross 
or  hybrid  in  which  their  respective  qualities  are 
combined,  although  incapable  of  being  truly  har- 

The  term  positivism  has  been  objected  to  both 
on  philological  and  logical  grounds,  but  any  faults 
it  may  have  are  not  of  a  seriously  dangerous  kind, 
and  it  is  my  wish  to  avoid  all  controversies  merely 
or  mainly  verbal.  It  was  not,  perhaps,  a  term 
greatly  needed,  and  it  may  not  be  the  best  which 
could   have  been   devised  ;    but  now  that  it   has 

The  System  of  Covite.  177 

been  invented  and  so  widely  accepted  and  em- 
ployed, it  cannot  be  got  rid  of,  and  we  must 
be  content  simply  to  guard  against  its  being 
applied  in  ways  calculated  to  create  or  foster 
prejudice.  It  was  put  in  circulation  by  M. 
Auguste_C^mte,,  a  man  of  remarkable  intellec- 
tual power,  but  also  of  immoderate  intellectual 
self-conceit  and  arrogance.  He  was  born  in  1798, 
and  died  in  1857.  There  is  an  able  biography  of 
him  by  M.  Littre,  one  of  the  most  illustrious 
veterans  of  contemporary  French  science  and 
literature;  and  there  are  a  multitude  of  sketches 
of  his  life,  executed  with  different  degrees  of  care 
and  skill.  His  voluminous  writings  have  been 
translated  into  our  language  by  a  few  of  his  Eng- 
lish disciples  with  self-denying  zeal,  and  in  a  man- 
ner which  leaves  nothing  to  be  desired. 

M.  Comte  has  no  valid  claim  to  be  considered 
the  originator  of  the  theory  to  which  he  gave  a 
new  name  and  a  vigorous  impulse.  It  was  taught 
in  all  its  essential  principles  by  Protagoras  and 
others  in  Greece  more  than  four  hundred  years 
before  the  Christian  era.  Positivism  is  the  phe- 
nomenalism of  the  Greek  sophists  revived  and 
adapted  to  the  demands  of  the  present  age. 
Hume  and  Kant  and  Saint  Simon  were  posi- 
tivists  before  the  appearance  of  positivism.  It 
is  scarcely  possible  to  find  in  Comte's  writings 
an  original  view — except  on  the  subject  of  scien- 


178  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

tific  method  —  which  is  generally  accepted  by 
those  who  are  called  his  disciples.  He  formed, 
indeed,  a  great  many  original  notions, —  notions 
his  own  by  right  of  paternity  or  creation, — but 
these  children  of  his  brain  few  even  of  his  warm 
admirers  have  felt  inclined  to  adopt.  They  are 
the  mere  vagaries  of  an  individual  mind,  and  must 
be  left  out  of  account  by  those  who  are  judging 
of  the  general  doctrine  of  positivism.  But  al- 
though all  the  chief  ideas  of  Comte  had  been 
clearly  and  repeatedly  enunciated  by  earlier 
thinkers,  he  had  great  strength  and  skill  in 
systematising  doctrines  and  elaborately  apply- 
ing principles,  and  his  influence  has  been  both 
extensive  and  intense. 

The  Positivism  which  he  taught,  taken  as  a 
whole,  is  at  once  a  philosophy,  a  polity,  and  a 
religion.  It  professes  to  systematise  all  scientific 
knowledge,  to  organise  all  industrial  and  social 
activities,  and  to  satisfy  all  spiritual  aspirations 
and  affections.  It  undertakes  to  explain  the  pastj 
to  exhibit  the  good  and  evil,  strength  and  weak- 
ness, of  the  present,  and  to  forecast  the  future ;  to 
assign  to  every  science,  every  large  scientific  gen- 
eralisation, every  principle  and  function  of  human 
nature,  and  every  great  social  force,  its  appropri- 
ate place ;  to  construct  a  system  of  thought  inclu- 
sive of  all  well-established  truths,  and  to  delineate 
a  scheme  of  political  and   religious  life  in  which 

TJic  System  of  Covite.  179 

duty  and  happiness,  order  and  progress,  opinion 
and  emotion,  will  be  reconciled  and  caused  to 
work  together  for  the  good  alike  of  the  individual 
and  of  society.  It  sets  before  itself,  in  a  word,  an 
aim  of  the  very  largest  and  grandest  kind  con- 
ceivable ;  and  as  Comte  believed  that  he  had  been 
signally  successful  in  performing  his  mighty  task, 
we  need  hardly  wonder  that  he  should  have  boldly 
claimed  to  have  rendered  to  his  race  the  services 
both  of  a  St  Paul  and  an  Aristotle. 

Is  the  system  as  consistent  as  it  is  undoubt- 
edly comprehensive  }  Comtists  themselves  cannot 
agree  as  to  the  answer  which  ought  to  be  given 
to  this  question.  A  few  of  the  more  enthusiastic 
and  thoroughgoing  among  them  —  such  as  Dr 
Bridges,  Mr  Congreve,  and,  in  a  lesser  degree, 
perhaps,  Mr  Harrison  —  reply  in  the  affirmative, 
and  accept  the  system  as  a  whole.  A  much  larger 
number,  of  whom,  since  the  death  of  Mr  J.  S. 
Mill,  M.  Littre  is  the  most  conspicuous  represen- 
tative, answer  in  the  negative,  and  will  have 
nothing  to  do  with  the  positivist  religion.  I 
have  no  wish  to  take  part  in  this  controversy, 
which  is  of  no  very  great  importance,  and  in  re- 
gard to  which,  besides,  I  have  elsewhere  stated 
the  conclusion  at  which  I  have  arrived.  As,  how- 
ever, the  philosophy  and  religion  of  Comte  are 
both  anti-theistic,  and  yet,  in  my  opinion,  incon- 
sistent with   each    other,    I    must    consider   them 

i8o  Ajiti-Theistic  Theories. 

separately, — the  one  in  so  far  as  it  would  simply 
push  theism  aside,  and  the  other  in  so  far  as  it 
would  provide  a  substitute  for  it. 

What,  then,  is  the  attitude  of  the  positive 
philosophy  towards  religion  ?  As  represented  by 
Comte,  it  may  be  thus  described.  We  know, 
and  can  know,  nothing  except  physical  pheno- 
mena and  their  laws.  The  senses  are  the  sources 
of  all  true  thinking,  and  we  can  know  nothing 
except  the  phenomena  which  they  apprehend, 
and  the  relations  of  sequence  and  resemblance 
in  which  these  phenomena  stand  to  one  another. 
Mental  phenomena  can  all  be  resolved  into  ma- 
terial phenomena,  and  there  is  no  such  thing  dis- 
coverable as  either  efficient  or  final  causation,  as 
either  an  origin  or  purpose  in  the  world,  as,  con- 
sequently, either  a  creative  or  providential  intelli- 
gence. The  mind  in  its  progress  necessarily  finds 
out  that  phenomena  cannot  be  reasonably  referred 
to  supernatural  agents,  as  at  a  later  period  that 
they  cannot  be  referred  to  occult  causes,  but  that 
they  must  be  accepted  as  they  present  themselves 
to  the  senses,  and  arranged  according  to  their 
relationships  of  sequence  or  coexistence,  similar- 
ity or  dissimilarity.  Wherever  theological  specu- 
lation is  found,  there  thought  is  in  its  infancy. 

Now,  the  first  remark  which  this  suggests  is, 
that  it  is  not  consistent  even  as  a  theory  of  posi- 
tivism.    It  is  to   a   considerable  extent  a    mate- 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Rcli^c'ion.  i8i 


rialistic  theory,  and  so  far  as  it  is  materialism 
it  is  not  properly  positivism.  Materialism  sup- 
poses matter  to  be  more  than  a  phenomenon.  It 
supposes  it  to  be  a  substance  and  a  cause.  The 
positivist  may  answer  that  such  phenomena  as 
feelings  and  thoughts  are  not  resolved  into  ma- 
terial substances  or  causes,  but  into  material 
phenomena.  The  self-contradiction,  however,  is 
not  thus  to  be  got  rid  of.  If  we  know  merely 
phenomena,  we  never  can  be  warranted  to  say 
that  those  which  we  call  mental  can  be  resolved 
into  those  w^hich  we  call  physical.  We  can  only 
be  w^arranted  in  saying  that  the  two  classes  of 
phenomena  are  related  as  coexistent  or  successive, 
similar  or  dissimilar.  Comte  went  far  beyond  this, 
and  therefore  far  beyond  a  self- consistent  posi- 
tivism— i.e.,  phenomenalism. 

Further,  the  limitation  or  reduction  of  pheno- 
mena to  material  phenomena  is  unwarranted.  We 
have  a  direct  and  immediate  knowledge  of  think- 
ing, feeling,  and  willing,  and  simply  as  phenomena 
these  are  markedly  distinct  from  the  phenomena 
called  material.  They  are  never,  as  material  phe- 
nomena always  are,  the  objects  of  our  senses.  But 
we  are  at  least  as  sure  of  their  existence  as  of 
the  existence  of  material  phenomena,  and  to  deny 
or  overlook  their  existence  is  to  reject  or  ignore 
that  which  is  most  indubitable.  There  is  no  tes- 
timony so  strong  as  the  direct   immediate   testi- 

1 82  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

mony  of  consciousness.  When  we  feel  or  think 
or  will,  when  we  perceive  or  remember,  love  or 
hate,  we  know  that  we  do  so  with  a  certainty  the 
most  absolute.  The  consciousness  which  a  man 
has  of  any  state  of  mind  at  the  moment  when 
he  experiences  it,  is  not  sufficient  to  inform  him 
whether  the  state  be  simple  or  complex,  original 
or  derivative  —  whether  it  be  coextensive  with 
human  consciousness  or  extend  into  the  con- 
sciousness of  the  lower  animals,  or  be  peculiar 
to  the  consciousness  of  a  portion  of  the  human 
race  or  to  the  individual  himself;  nor  is  it  suffi- 
cient to  establish  whether  there  be  anything  out- 
wardly corresponding  to  it,  but  it  is  sufficient  to 
establish  beyond  all  doubt  that  there  is  such  a 
fact  in  the  mental  experience  of  the  individual. 
The  most  thorough  scepticism  cannot  challenge 
its  evidence  when  limited  to  this  sphere.  It  is 
only,  in  fact,  at  this  barrier  that  absolute  scepti- 
cism is  arrested.  Absolute  scepticism  refuses  to 
admit  that  in  external  or  sense  perception  things 
appear  to  us  as  they  actually — i.e.,  in  themselves 
— are,  but  not  that  internal  or  self  consciousness 
apprehends  its  objects  as  they  really  exist.  In 
external  perception  what  apprehends  is  mind,  and 
what  is  apprehended  belongs  to  an  altogether 
different  world,  which  may  or  may  not  correspond 
to  it ;  whereas  in  internal  perception  the  object 
itself  falls  within  the  consciousness,  exists  only  as 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Relizio?i 


it  is  known  and  is  known  only  as  it  exists,  con- 
sciousness and  existence  being  here  coincident, 
and  in  fact  identical.  Internal  consciousness 
thus  carries  with  it  stronger  evidence  than  sense. 
The  so-called  positivism,  therefore,  which  affirms 
that  the  objects  of  sense  are  the  only  phenomena 
apprehended,  instead  of  keeping  close  to  facts,  as 
it  pretends  to  do,  contradicts  the  facts  which  the 
experience  of  every  moment  of  conscious  exist- 
ence testifies  to  in  the  most  direct  and  decisive 
manner.  Its  most  obvious  characteristic  is  the 
disregard  of  facts.  A  number  of  the  adherents  of 
positivism  have,  consequently,  left  the  company  of 
Comte  at  this  point.  They  have  insisted,  very 
properly,  that  mental  states  are  positive  facts,  and 
the  appropriate  data  of  science  no  less  than  phys- 
ical processes.^ 

The  attempt  to  defend  Comte's  position  by 
maintaining  that  the  phenomena  of  thought,  feel- 
ing, and  volition  are  not  denied,  but  only  referred 
to  the  bodily  organisation,  and  thereby  included 
among  material  phenomena,  fails  in  two  respects. 
In  the  first  place,  it  cannot  justify  what  it  main- 
tains. Mental  states  may  have  physical  conditions 
and  antecedents,  but  no  mental  state  has  ever 
been  resolved  into  what  is  physical.  In  the  second 
place,  if  consciousness  could  be  fully  explained  by 
organisation,  that  would  prove  the  truth  of  mate- 

1  See  Appendix  XX. 

184  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

rialism,  which,  as  I  have  already  said,  is  inconsis- 
tent with  positivism.  When  positivism  says  more 
than  that  the  phenomena  called  mental  are  so  and 
so  related  to  the  phenomena  called  material — when 
it  says  that  the  former  can  be  referred  to  or 
resolved  into  the  latter,  so  as  to  be  really  material 
phenomena, — it  supposes  to  be  true  what  it  pro- 
fesses to  deny — viz.,  the  reality  of  causes  and  sub- 
stances ;  it  supposes  that  matter  is  not  an  aggre- 
gate of  phenomena,  but  a  substance  or  cause,  or 

This  leads  me  to  remark  that  positivism  is  not 
thorough.  It  goes  only  so  far  as  is  convenient 
for  it,  not  so  far  as  it  logically  ought.  Comte  as- 
sumes material  phenomena  to  be  the  primary  and 
ultimate  known  existences,  —  those  from  which 
science  must  start,  and  on  which  it  must  rest. 
But  the  least  reflection  shows  us  that  the  assump- 
tion is  wholly  groundless.  The  first  thing  which 
scepticism  has  swallowed  up  has  always  been  the 
world  of  sense — these  material  phenomena.  It 
has  always  found  that  if  the  senses  are  our  sole 
means  of  knowing,  the  sole  things  known  must  be 
sensations,  and  sensations  are  states  of  conscious- 
ness—  phenomena  of  mind,  not  of  matter.  If  we 
know  only  phenomena,  it  is  not  material  pheno- 
mena we  know,  but  mental  phenomena.  What  we 
call  material  phenomena  are  in  that  case  mere 
illusions.     The  materialistic   positivism   of  Comte 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Religion.  185 

is  bound  to  abdicate  in  favour  of  the  idealistic 
positivism  of  Mill,  which  confines  all  our  know- 
ledge to  mental  phenomena. 

This  brings  us  decidedly  farther  on  the  way 
to  the  goal  which,  nolens  volens,  positivism  must 
arrive  at — viz.,  scepticism.  It  is  not  belief  in  God 
only  which  it  must  discard,  but  belief  in  matter 
also ;  and  not  belief  merely  in  matter  in  some 
special  philosophical  sense,  not  belief  merely  in 
some  material  essence  or  substance  distinct  from 
phenomena,  but  in  material  phenomena  themselves. 
If  we  know  only  phenomena,  we  know  only  mental 
phenomena  ;  the  whole  universe  is  on  that  sup- 
position an  aggregate  of  states  of  mind,  and  when 
we  think  of  time  or  space,  sea  or  sky,  as  without 
us  we  are  self- deluded  ;  there  is  and  can  be  no 
knowledge  of  what  is  without.  Mr  Mill,  it  is  true, 
tries  to  preserve  something,  and  to  show  that  we 
may  be  philosophers  and  yet  believe  in  a  sort  of 
•'outer"  or  material  world.  We  may  believe  in  it, 
he  thinks,  as  "a  permanent  possibility  of  sensa- 
tions." But  no.  A  possibility  is  not  a  phenome- 
non. If  we  know  only  what  is  phenomenal,  we 
cannot  know  what  is  possible  as  distinct  from  and 
explanatory  of  the  phenomenal.  Nor  can  a  mere 
experience  of  phenomena  inform  us  that  any  of 
them  will  be  permanent,  since  experience  is  neces- 
sarily limited  to  the  actual,  to  what  is  and  to  what 
has  been.     Indeed  the  phrase  "a  permanent  pos- 

1 86  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

sibility  of  sensation"  is  unintelligible.  It  must 
have  been  meant  either  for  "a  permanent  possi- 
bility of  producing  sensations  "  or  ''  a  permanent 
possibility  of  experiencing-  sensations."  But  mat- 
ter is  certainly  no  possibility  of  experiencing  sen- 
sations. That  matter  is  sentient  is  a  groundless 
fancy,  not  a  positive  fact,  although  in  the  course 
of  the  ages  a  few  thinkers  and  dreamers  have  en- 
tertained the  notion.  And  matter  cannot  be  a 
possibility  of  producing  sensations  in  the  view  of 
a  consistent  positivism  which  refuses  to  recognise 
causation,  efficiency.  A  consistent  positivism  must 
be  a  purely  idealistic  positivism.  Even  the  dim 
ghost  of  matter  which  Mr  Mill  would  retain  must 
be  discarded. 

And  it  will  not  suffice.  Mind  must  likewise  go. 
Mind  cannot  be  identified  with  its  phenomena.  If 
we  know  only  phenomena  we  know  only  a  series 
of  states  of  consciousness.  We  can,  on  that  sup- 
position, have  no  right  to  say,  as  Mr  Mill  does, 
that  a  mind  is  ''a  thread  of  consciousness."  It  can 
only  be  a  general  term  for  a  succession  of  states  of 
consciousness  unconnected  by  any  thread.  We  can 
have  no  right,  if  positivism  be  true,  to  use  language 
like  this  :  "  As  body  is  the  mysterious  something 
which  excites  the  mind  to  feel,  so  mind  is  the 
mysterious  something  which  feels  and  thinks."  It 
is  not  the  language  of  positivism  to  point  us  to 
mysterious  somethings.     On  the  contrary,  as  long 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Religion.  187 

as  it  has  any  regard  for  consistency,  it  will  warn 
us  to  have  nothing  to  do  with  "  mysterious  some- 
things," but  to  keep  close  to  experienced  pheno- 
mena. Positivism  must  give  up,  then,  both  matter 
and  mind.  What  remains.?  Phenomena  —  but 
these  reduced  to  states  of  consciousness  which 
have  neither  object  nor  subject, — states  of  con- 
sciousness which  seem  to  be,  but  are  not,  what 
they  seem, —  states  of  consciousness  of  a  kind 
which  consciousness  is  unconscious  of,  and  which 
thought  cannot  conceive.  It  is  to  this  bourn  that 
positivism  must  inevitably  come.  Reason  can 
only  lead  it  to  annihilation, 

Comte  lays  his  interdict  on  all  speculation  as 
to  the  origin  of  the  world.  He  condemns  both 
theism  and  atheism,  both  the  affirmation  and  the 
denial  of  the  existence  of  God.  Belief  and  dis- 
belief are,  he  thinks,  in  this  case  alike  unreason- 
able. The  mind  should  absolutely  refuse  either  to 
believe  or  disbelieve  on  such  a  subject.  Now  this 
is  an  obviously  absurd  view,  an  obviously  most 
erroneous  advice,  except  on  two  suppositions — 
namely,  that  there  is  no  reason  whatever  in  favour 
either  of  theism  or  atheism,  or  that  the  reasons  for 
the  one  exactly  counterbalance  those  for  the  other. 
We  have  no  right  to  withhold  belief  where  there 
is  reason  for  belief,  nor  to  believe  otherwise  than 
according  to  reason.  But  all  forms  of  theoretical 
atheism  give  some  reasons  for  their  claims  to  be 

1 88  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

received,  and  theism  maintains  that  it  has  an 
overwhelming  weight  of  reason  on  its  side.  In 
these  circumstances,  no  man  is  entitled  to  withhold 
any  more  than  to  yield  belief  as  he  pleases.  No 
man  is  entitled  to  evade  the  responsibility  of  care- 
fully considering  what  is  to  be  believed  and  dis- 
believed on  the  greatest  subject  with  which  human 
thought  can  be  occupied,  by  the  arbitrary  and 
unreasoned  assertion  that  belief  and  disbehef  in 
reference  to  it  are  both  unwarranted.  No  man 
has  a  right  to  make  such  an  assertion  without 
trying  to  prove  it.  It  is  an  assertion  which  needs 
proof  as  much  as  any  theory  of  the  origin  of  the 

It  is  an  assertion  which  does  not  appear,  at  least 
at  the  first  glance,  as  if  it  would  be  easy  of  proof. 
For  what  does  its  proof  imply }  Manifestly  both 
the  disproof  of  all  the  theories  which  have  been 
entertained  as  to  the  origin  of  things  —  theism, 
pantheism,  polytheism,  and  even  materialism  — 
and  proof  that  all  theories  which  may  in  future  be 
started  on  the  same  subject  must  be  equally  in 
vain.  The  latter  task,  as  I  showed  in  my  first 
lecture,  must  transcend  human  power.  The  human 
mind  of  to-day  cannot  know  what  will  be  dis- 
covered by  the  human  mind  a  hundred,  a  thou- 
sand, a  million  years  hence.  Only  an  infinite 
mind  can  foreknow  what  a  finite  mind  will  know 
throughout  eternity.     It  is  absurd  for  a  philosophy 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Religion.  189 

which  professes  to  confine  itself  to  experience  to 
dogmatise  on  what  man  may  or  may  not  possibly 
know.  He  who  would  prove  that  God  cannot  be 
known,  must  prove  that  there  is  something  essen- 
tially self-contradictory  in  the  very  notion  of  the 
Divine  existence  and  nature.  But  that  cannot  be 
proved  by  experience  ;  it  can  only  be  proved,  if  it 
can  be  proved  at  all,  by  the  self-criticism  of  reason, 
by  the  metaphysical  process  which  positivism  pro- 
nounces worthless, 

A  simple  refutation  of  the  proofs  adduced  on 
behalf  of  the  various  forms  of  religion  must  be 
admitted  to  be  a  more  hopeful  undertaking,  but 
even  it  is  not  one  in  which  positivism  has  suc- 
ceeded. It  has  brought  nothing  new  to  light 
against  pantheism.  It  has  favoured  materialism 
instead  of  overcoming  and  expelling  it.  Its  argu- 
ments a£!"ainst  theism  have  consisted  to  a  larc^e 
extent  of  ancient  and  superficial  fallacies,  the 
weight  of  which  are  as  nothing  compared  with  the 
reasons  in  the  opposite  scale.  Before  casting  aside 
a  belief  like  that  in  God — a  belief  entertained 
by  a  long  succession  of  generations,  by  millions 
of  men,  by  the  noblest  intellects  which  the  world 
has  ever  known  —  a  belief  the  most  fruitful  in 
great  thoughts  and  great  deeds  —  a  belief  which 
could  not  be  displaced  without  shaking  society 
from  top  to  base, — the  examination  of  its  foun- 
dations ought  to  be  impartial  and  profound  ;  but 

1 90  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

positivism  has  undertaken  no  examination  of  the 

The  only  argument  with  any  claim  to  be  re- 
garded as  original  or  distinctive  which  positivism 
has  employed  against  theism,  is  that  which  some  of 
its  supporters  rest  on  the  so-called  lazu  of  the  three 
states.  Comte,  as  every  one  knows  who  knows 
anything  regarding  his  views,  holds  that  specu- 
lation is  first  theological,  then  metaphysical,  and 
finally  positive ;  or,  in  other  words,  is  first  a  refer- 
ence of  phenomena  to  supernatural  volitions,  then 
to  occult  causes,  and  finally  the  mere  arranging  of 
them  according  to  their  relations  of  sequence  and 
coexistence,  likeness  or  unlikeness.  He  believed 
that  he  had  established  that  the  progressive  march 
of  human  thought  was  from  the  first  to  the  last 
of  these  states,  and  that  when  the  last  was  reached, 
those  which  preceded  it  were  left  behind  ;  that 
when  positive  science  was  attained,  theological  and 
metaphysical  speculation  were  necessarily  seen  to 
be  illegitimate  and  worthless.  Some,  however,  who 
have  imagined  that  they  adopted  his  law — the  late 
Mr  J.  S.  Mill  and  Mr  J.  Morley,  for  example- 
would  ignore  its  negative  bearing,  at  least  towards 
theology,  and  suppose  it  to  mean  merely  that  in 
the  positive  epoch  all  phenomena,  physical  and 
social,  will  be  looked  upon  as  following  a  fixed 
order,  although  that  order  may  have  been  ordained 
by  God.     With  positivists  of  this  class  I  need  here 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Religion.  191 

have  no  controversy.  I  am  only  surprised  that 
they  should  be  able  to  suppose  that  they  accept 
Comte's  law  as  proposed  by  himself.  If  he  had 
seen  that  positivist  thought  was  not  exclusive  of 
theological  thought ;  that  when  you  had  reached 
a  law  of  phenomenon,  so  far  from  having  done 
with  all  questions  as  to  whether  or  not  these  phe- 
nomena have  any  relation  to  God,  you  were  only 
brought  into  a  position  to  ask,  Is  this  lav/  not  an 
ordinance  of  God  ? — is  it  not  an  expression  of  His 
will .'' — I  should  have  had  nothing  to  object  to  him. 
But  had  he  seen  that,  he  would  have  seen  also 
that  his  positivism  was  a  comparatively  small 
and  partial  thing,  however  true  it  might  be  within 
the  narrow  limits  in  that  case  assigned  to  it.  Cer- 
tainly, as  a  matter  of  fact,  he  did  not  see  it.  He 
clearly  and  explicitly  taught  the  contrary.  He 
distinctly  held  that  positivism  so  excludes  meta- 
physics and  theology,  that  positivism  completed 
would  be  metaphysics  and  theology  eliminated 
from  the  entire  intelligible  world. 

For  this  dogma,  however,  he  produced  no  his- 
torical evidence.  There  was,  in  fact,  none  to  pro- 
duce. The  scientific  proof  of  law  has  in  no  single 
instance  been  found  to  include  or  involve  disproof 
of  a  lawgiver.  In  no  nation,  and  with  respect 
to  no  single  science  or  even  single  scientific  truth, 
has  the  human  mind  yet  reached  a  position  which 
is  beyond  or  above  theism,  or  from  which  theism 

192  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

can  be  seen  to  be  untrue ;  so  that  Comte's  law,  as 
propounded  by  himself,  is  in  its  negative  reference, 
in  which  alone  it  concerns  us  here,  wholly  un- 
warranted by  facts.  Comte  has  mistaken,  as  I 
have  previously  had  occasion  to  prove,  in  a  work 
on  the  '  Philosophy  of  History  in  France  and 
Germany,'  three  coexistent  states  for  three  suc- 
cessive stages  of  thought,  three  aspects  of  things 
for  three  epochs  of  time.  Theology,  metaphysics, 
and  positive  science,  instead  of  following  only 
after  one  another,  each  constituting  an  epoch,  have 
each  pervaded  all  epochs — have  coexisted  from 
the  earliest  times  to  the  present  day.  There  has 
been  no  passing  away  of  any  one  of  them.  Each 
new  positive  science  brings  with  it  principles  which 
the  metaphysician  finds  it  requisite  to  submit  to 
an  analytic  examination,  and  in  which  he  finds 
new  materials  for  speculation  ;  and  also,  in  the 
measure  of  its  success,  results  in  which  the  theo- 
logian finds  some  fresh  disclosure  of  the  thoughts 
and  character  of  God.  Underneath  all  positive  or 
empirical  science  there  is  metaphysics ;  above  all 
such  science  there  is  theology  ;  and  these  three 
are  so  related  that  every  advance  of  science  must 
extend  the  spheres  both  of  true  metaphysics  and 
true  theology.  Hence  history,  far  from  showing 
that  theology  and  metaphysics  are  purely  of  her 
domain,  merely  passing  phases  of  thought  pre- 
paratory   for    positive    science,    illusions    of    the 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Religion.  193 

infancy  and  youth  of  humanity  through  which 
the  mind  must  pass  on  its  way  to  maturity,  certi- 
fies, on  the  contrary,  that  all  three  have  constantly 
existed  together, — that  while  each  has  been  gradu- 
ally emancipating  itself  from  the  interference  and 
control  of  the  others,  each  has  been  advancing 
and  evolving  within  its  proper  sphere  and  in  due 
relationship  to  the  others ;  that  they  are  distin- 
guishable but  not  divisible  ;  that  they  represent 
real  aspects  of  existence  and  respond  to  eternal 
aspirations  of  the  human  heart.  I  do  not  dwell, 
however,  on  this,  because  I  have  elsewhere  done 
so.  Suffice  it  to  say  that  the  appeal  of  the 
positivist  to  history  for  a  testimony  unfavour- 
able to  theism,  evokes  only  a  declaration  on  its 

Let  us  consider  for  a  moment  the  positivist 
appeal  to  reason.  Under  this  head  Comte's  fun- 
damental objection  to  theism  and  theology  is,  that 
they  imply  that  man  can  attain  to  a  knowledge  of 
causes,  whereas  causes  are,  he  holds,  absolutely  in- 
accessible to  the  human  intellect.  He  admits  that 
a  rehgious  theory  of  the  world,  a  belief  in  a  divine 
Author  of  the  world,  is  inevitable,  if  reason  can 
rise  to  causes,  but  he  denies  that  it  can.  To  deny, 
however,  is  always  easy;  to  prove  a  negative  is 
always  difficult.  In  order  to  prove  the  negative 
in  question,  M.  Comte  must  have  proved  that  he 
^  See  Appendix  XXI. 

194  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

himself  was  not  a  cause  ;  that  it  could  not  be  fairly 
concluded  that  he  was  the  efficient  and  intelligent 
author  of  the  books  which  he  took  credit  to  him- 
self for  having  written ;  that  the  apparent  evi- 
dences of  mind  in  these  works  were  deceptive,  and 
did  not  warrant  the  reference  of  them  to  mind  as 
their  cause.  The  only  reasons  which  he  advanced 
against  the  theistic  conclusion  should  have  led  him 
straight  to  suspense  of  judgment  respecting  the 
causation  involved  in  the  production  of  his  own 
works.  They  were  as  good  grounds  for  declar- 
ing illusory  the  evidence  for  his  own  existence  as 
for  disregarding  the  evidence  for  God's  existence, 
although,  of  course,  extremely  insufficient  grounds 
for  doing  either  the  one  or  the  other.  If  from  the 
combination  of  letters  in  a  book  we  can  legiti- 
mately rise  to  the  mind  of  the  author  as  at  least 
one  of  the  causes  of  its  existence,  a  knowledge  of 
causes,  in  the  only  sense  in  which  a  theist  is  inter- 
ested in  maintaining  that  they  can  be  known,  is 
clearly  not  inaccessible  to  the  human  intellect, 
but  within  its  easy  reach.  If,  on  the  other  hand, 
positivists  are  justified  in  asserting  that  causes  are 
absolutely  unknowable,  let  them  not  expect  us  to 
believe  that  they  themselves  are  the  authors  of 
books  and  speeches  ;  that  their  invisible  thoughts 
and  volitions  have  originated  printed  and  audible 
words.  If  a  human  mind  can  reveal  itself  as  in  a 
certain  sense  a  cause  through  paper  and  printer's 

Positivism  in  relation  to  Religion.  195 

ink,  it  is  utterly  arbitrary  to  deny  that  the  Divine 
mind  may  reveal  itself  as  in  the  same  sense  a 
cause  through  the  arrangements  and  forms  of  the 
material  universe. 

All  the  reasonings  of  positivists  against  causes 
resolve  themselves  at  last  into  the  single  argument 
— We  cannot  see  causality,  and  therefore  we  cannot 
know  causes ;  our  senses  show  us  succession  but 
not  causation,  antecedents  and  consequents  but 
not  causes  and  effects ;  and  we  know  nothing,  and 
have  no  right  to  believe  anything,  beyond  what 
our  senses  show  us.  In  other  words,  their  entire 
argumentation  proceeds  on  a  superficial  hypothesis 
as  to  the  nature  of  knowledge — one  which  fails  to 
note  that  the  mind  itself  is  the  most  important 
factor  in  knowledge,  and  that  the  simplest  and 
directest  experience  presupposes  a  constitution  in 
thought  as  well  as  in  things.  Causes  are  inferred 
to  be  metaphysical  fictions  because  sensation  is 
assumed  to  be  the  sole  means  of  knowledge,  the 
only  true  ground  of  belief,  and  the  complete  meas- 
ure of  existence.  But  these  assumptions  are  crude 
and  unfounded  dogmas.  To  those  who  believe 
that  there  is  no  such  state  as  mere  sensation — 
that  thought  and  belief  must  always  go  beyond 
sensation — that  the  idea  of  cause  is  a  necessary 
condition  of  intellectual  activity — and  that  pheno- 
mena can  only  be  apprehended  and  conceived  of 
by  the  help  of  this  idea,  —  the  reasoning  of  the 

196  Anti-Thcistic  Theories, 

positlvist  must  seem   a  manifest  begging  of  the 

When  treating  last  year  of  the  design  argument, 
I  examined  all  the  objections  of  Comte  against 
final  causes  which  seemed  to  me  possessed  of  any 
plausibility.  On  this  point,  therefore,  I  shall  merely 
remark  now,  that  if,  as  he  maintained,  we  can 
know  nothing  of  final  causes,  nothing  of  the  pur- 
poses which  things  are  meant  to  accomplish,  the 
arguments  by  which  he  attempted  to  show  that 
they  might  have  realised  their  final  causes,  fulfilled 
their  purposes,  better  than  they  do,  ought  in  self- 
consistency  never  to  have  been  used.  If  we  can 
have  no  notion  of  the  purpose  of  a  thing,  we  can- 
not judge  whether  it  is  fulfilling  its  purpose  or  not, 
whether  it  is  fulfilling  it  well  or  ill.  Comte's  un- 
qualified denial  of  the  possibility  of  knowing  the 
ends  of  things  is  glaringly  inconsistent  with  his 
attempts  to  prove  that  things  might  have  been 
constituted  and  arranged  in  a  happier  and  more 
advantageous  manner.  For  a  man  who  avows 
complete  ignorance  of  the  purposes  of  things  to 
try  to  show  that  they  are  not  fulfilHng  their  pur- 
poses, or  might  fulfil  them  more  successfully,  is 
the  most  suicidal,  self-contradictory  undertaking 
imaginable.  It  shows  that  he  himself  finds  it 
impossible  really  to  believe  what  he  rashly  affirms. 
It  shows  that  in  spite  of  his  theory  the  behef 
in   final   causes   is   so   rooted    in    his   intellectual 

The  Positivist  Religion.  197 

nature  that  he  assumes   it  even  when   reasoning- 


against  it. 


Were  positivism  established  as  a  philosophy,  no 
room  would  be  left  for  religion  in  the  ordinary- 
sense  of  the  term.  If  the  mind  can  know  nothinsf 
except  the  phenomena  of  immediate  experience, 
if  sensations  and  feelings  be  the  matter  of  all  its 
thoughts,  if  God  be  wholly  beyond  its  cognisance, 
it  is  inevitably  condemned  to  confine  its  beliefs, 
anticipations,  fears,  and  joys,  to  this  visible  and 
temporal  scene  of  things.  This  being  the  case, 
how  can  there  be  any  religion  t  Till  comparatively 
late  in  his  career,  Comte  did  not  suppose  there 
could  be  any,  and  did  not  feel  the  want  of  any. 
He  considered  "religiosity,"  as  he  called  it,  **a 
mere  weakness,  and  avowal  of  want  of  power." 
But  in  the  latter  part  of  his  life  he  passed  through 
certain  experiences  which  convinced  him  that  the 
heart  was  as  essential  a  part  of  humanity  as  the 
head  ;  that  the  spirit  required  to  be  satisfied  as 
well  as  the  intellect.  He  felt  in  himself  wants 
which  mere  science  could  not  supply,  and  recog- 
nised, in  consequence,  that  the  human  race  could 
not  dispense  with  a  religion.  With  characteristic 
boldness  he  proceeded  to  invent  what  he  was 
pleased   to  designate  a  religion.      This  so-called 

iqS  Anti-Theistic  TJieories. 

religion  has  not  as  yet  obtained  many  adherents, 
and  does  not  appear  as  if  it  would  be  more  suc- 
cessful in  the  future,  although  its  founder  felt  no 
doubt  that  it  would  speedily  supersede  all  former 
faiths.  Few  of  those  who  are  positivists  in  philo- 
sophy are  also  positivists  in  religion.  As  a  rule, 
positivists  have  no  religion.  And  in  this,  I  think, 
they  are  quite  consistent. 

M.  Comte  laid  the  basis  of  his  proposed  reli- 
gious reformation  in  a  radical  alteration  of  the 
signification  of  the  word  religion.  Religion  had 
been  previously  always  understood  to  imply  be- 
lief in  a  God — to  rest  on  some  affirmation  of  the 
supernatural.  M.  Comte  wished  to  present  as  a 
religion  a  theory  of  life  which  involved  no  belief 
in  a  God — no  affirmation  of  the  supernatural.  He 
gained  his  end  simply  enough  by  employing  the 
word  religion  in  a  peculiar  sense.  But,  of  course, 
there  was  and  could  be  no  justification  of  this 
procedure.  The  human  race  has  rights  in  such 
a  term  as  religion  which  are  not  to  be  sacrificed 
to  the  will  of  any  individual.  The  business  of  a 
thinker  deaHng  with  this  and  similar  words  is,  to 
ascertain  what  they  have  hitherto  meant  and  what 
they  actually  mean,  and  to  apply  them  as  other 
men  have  done  and  do  ;  for  him  to  impose  a  sig- 
nification of  his  own  upon  them  is  alike  an  arbi- 
trary and  an  arrogant  act,  and  one  which  tends  to 
generate  confusion  and  error.     A  religion  which  is 

TJie  Posit ivist  Rcligioji.  199 

independent  of  a  belief  in  a  God  is  a  conception  of 
the  same  kind  as  a  circle  whose  radii  are  not  all 
equal.  Belief  in  a  God  is  of  the  very  essence  of  all 
that  men  have  been  accustomed  to  call  religion, 
and  whatever  is  not  inclusive  of  this  belief  ought 
to  be  expressed  by  some  other  term  than  religion. 
What,  however,  is  religion,  according  to  M. 
Comte  .f*  It  is,  he  says,  ''the  synthetic  idealisation 
of  our  existence,"  or  "that  state  of  perfect  unity 
which  is  the  distinctive  mark  of  man's  existence, 
both  as  an  individual  and  in  society,  when  all  the 
constituent  parts  of  his  nature,  moral  as  well  as 
physical,  are  made  habitually  to  converge  towards 
one  common  unity."  Mr  J.  S.  Mill  accepted  M. 
Comte's  view  on  this  subject,  and  gave  it  expres- 
sion in  clear  and  simple  terms.  These  are  the 
conditions  necessary  to  constitute  a  religion  in  the 
positivist  sense  of  the  word,  as  stated  by  Mr  Mill : 
"There  must  be  a  creed  or  conviction  claiming 
authority  over  the  whole  of  human  life ;  a  belief, 
or  set  of  beliefs,  deliberately  adopted,  respecting 
human  destiny  and  duty,  to  which  the  believer  in- 
wardly acknowledges  that  all  his  actions  ought  to 
be  subordinate.  Moreover,  there  must  be  a  senti- 
ment connected  with  this  creed,  or  capable  of  being 
invoked  by  it,  sufficiently  powerful  to  give  it,  in 
fact,  the  authority  over  human  conduct  to  which 
it  lays  claim  in  theory."  According  to  this  doc- 
trine, "if  a  person  has  an  ideal  object,  his  attach- 

200  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

ment  and  sense  of  duty  towards  which  are  able  to 
control  and  discipline  all  his  other  sentiments  and 
propensities,  and  prescribe  to  him  a  rule  of  life, 
that  person  has  a  religion." 

Such  is  the  account  of  religion  given  by  M. 
Comte  and  Mr  Mill.  What  are  we  to  think  of 
it }  Well,  it  could  scarcely  be  more  inaccurate 
than  it  is.  Were  we  not  told  that  it  was  meant 
for  an  account  of  religion,  we  should  certainly 
never  have  imagined  anything  of  the  kind,  and, 
even  after  being  told  this,  it  is  somewhat  difficult 
to  believe  it.  The  distinguished  authors  of  the 
description  have  succeeded  about  as  well  as  would 
a  painter  who,  designing  to  represent  a  man,  should 
draw  the  likeness  of  a  horse  or  some  other  animal. 
They  have  given  a  sort  of  picture  not  of  religion 
at  all,  but  of  morality,  and  have  consequently 
done  what  they  could  inextricably  to  confound 
religion  and  morality.  Conscience,  as  the  supreme 
legislative  principle  in  man,  is  necessarily  the  power 
which  is  in  possession  of  the  synthetic  ideal  of  life. 
Its  dictates  constitute  the  law  of  unity  to  which  all 
the  parts  and  faculties  of  human  nature  should 
habitually  converge.  It  essentially  consists  of  "  a 
creed  or  conviction  claiming  authority  over  the 
whole  of  human  life,  and  a  sentiment  connected 
with  this  creed,  or  capable  of  being  invoked  by  it, 
giving  it  the  authority  over  human  conduct  to 
which  it  lays  claim   in  theory."     When  language 

TJic  Positivist  Religion.  201 

is  used  with  propriety,  "  if  a  person  has  an  ideal 
object,  his  attachment  and  sense  of  duty  towards 
which  are  able  to  control  and  discipline  all  his 
other  sentiments  and  propensities,  and  prescribe 
to  him  a  rule  of  life,"  what  that  person  will  be  said 
to  have  is  a  good  moral  character.  Thus  the 
Comtist  account  of  religion  corresponds  in  some 
measure  to  morality.  But  it  has  scarcely  the 
most  distant  resemblance  to  religion.  Test  it  by 
application  to  any  of  the  heathen  religions,  with 
the  exception  of  Buddhism,  and  its  inaccuracy  will 
be  seen  at  once ;  while  Buddhism  only  answers 
to  it  so  far  in  consequence  of  being  a  system  of 
philosophy  and  a  code  of  ethics  as  well  as  a  reli- 
gion. Religion  is  not  essentially  synthetic.  It 
does  not  necessarily  tend  to  unity,  and  still  less  is 
it  necessarily  a  state  of  perfect  unity.  In  almost 
all  its  lower  forms,  and  even  in  the  worships  of 
India  and  Greece,  in  may  be  seen  to  work  towards 
division  and  multiplicity.  The  tendency  to  unity 
is  only  manifested  in  a  religion  when  the  theoris- 
ing reason  obtains  the  mastery  over  imagination 
and  phantasy.  The  mythological  processes  are 
the  reverse  of  synthetic  or  unifying.  Nor  does 
religion  necessarily  and  of  itself  prescribe  a  uni- 
versal and  comprehensive  rule  of  life.  One  of  the 
most  obtrusive  facts  presented  by  the  history  of 
religion  is,  that  only  in  its  higher  types  does  reli- 
gion enter  into  alliance  with  morality,  and  add  its 

202  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

sanction  and  consecration  to  a  general  code  of 
conduct.  Religion  as  religion,  may  be,  and  in 
countless  cases  is,  grievously  divorced  from  the 
sense  of  duty.  The  separation  is,  of  course,  to  be 
deplored,  but  its  possibility,  and,  still  more,  its 
frequent  actual  occurrence,  prove  that  to  identify 
religion  with  morality  is  altogether  inadmissible. 
Further,  religion  does  not  imply  idealisation  in  the 
sense  meant  by  Comte  and  Mill.  Imagination, 
there  is  no  doubt,  enters  largely  into  religion,  and 
worshippers  always  conceive  of  their  gods  as  in 
some  respects  superior  to  themselves.  But  ideal- 
isation as  a  conscious  formation  of  types  of  per- 
fection, or  a  deliberate  imaginative  glorification 
of  anything,  so  as  to  make  it  an  ideal  object  in 
contradistinction  to  a  real  object,  is  not  a  religious 
but  a  purely  poetical  process.  Ideals  cannot  even 
be  idols. 

Yet  Comte  might  have  gone  still  farther  from 
the  truth  as  to  the  nature  of  religion  than  he 
actually  did.  The  idealisation  which  he  demanded 
was  the  idealisation  of  a  reality, — the  idealisation 
of  the  Great  Being  or  Humanity.  It  was  not  the 
idealisation  which  is  pure  fiction — which  is  wholly 
irrespective  of  truth  —  which  has  no  connection 
whatever  with  reality.  Comte  thus  left  it  possible 
for  a  successor  to  acquire  the  fame  of  originality 
by  maintaining  that  the  essence  of  religion  was 
such  pure  or  absolutely  baseless  idealisation  ;  and 

The  Positivist  Religion.  203 

this,  I  regret  to  say,  is  precisely  what  has  been 
done  by  Lange,  the  author  of  the  *  History  of 
Materiahsm.'  He  has  followed  to  the  very  end 
the  path  opened  by  Comte ;  and  although  the 
end  be  an  abyss,  he  has  cast  himself  into  it.  He 
does  not  propose,  like  Strauss,  to  substitute  poetry 
for  religion,  but  he  regards  religion  as  merely  a 
kind  of  poetry.  Man,  he  holds,  has,  and  can  have, 
no  knowledge  of  anything  transcending  positive 
experience,  no  cognisance  of  supernatural  reality, 
no  apprehension  of  spiritual  truth.  At  the  same 
time,  he  also  holds  that  knowledge,  experience, 
and  truth,  are  insufficient  to  satisfy  the  wants  of 
human  nature.  He  insists  that  there  are  tenden- 
cies or  instincts  in  the  heart  which  crave  for  ideal 
objects  that  respond  exclusively  to  the  emotions. 
The  spirit,  in  his  view,  can  only  find  peace  by 
creating  a  home  for  itself  in  the  ideal  world.  But 
it  must  beware  of  falling  into  the  delusion  that  the 
contents  of  that  world  are  truths.  It  must  regard 
them  merely  as  means  of  emotional  development 
and  culture.  Hymns  like  "  Rock  of  Ages  cleft 
for  me,"  and  "Jesus,  lover  of  my  soul,"  may  be 
retained  and  devotionally  used,  provided  it  be 
remembered  that  they  are  simply  poetry — that 
they  have  no  basis  in  reality. 

The  mere  statement  of  such  a  view  is  a  sufficient 
refutation  of  it.  What  it  represents  as  religion  is 
an  idiotic  and  immoral  mimicry  of  religion.    Lange 

204  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

has  given  no  reasons  for  entertaining  it,  and  I  need 
give  none  for  rejecting  it.  I  have  noticed  it  merely 
to  show  that  as  to  the  nature  of  reh'gion  there  is 
even  a  lower  depth  than  that  into  which  Comte 
fell.  He  failed  to  see  that  only  a  religion  which 
is  based  on  the  conviction  that  there  is  a  reality 
higher  than  man's  highest  ideals^  can  satisfy  the 
intellect  and  heart;  and  he  fancied,  in  consequence, 
that  a  finite  being — a  being  which  can  be  exalted 
and  magnified  by  idealisation — was  an  appropriate 
object  of  adoration.  But  great  as  was  this  error, 
it  was,  of  course,  far  less  monstrous  than  to  teach 
that  religion  was  wholly  independent  of  belief  in 
truth  or  reality,  and  that  men  ought  only  to  wor- 
ship in  the  future  what  they  know  to  be  the  fictions 
of  their  own  minds. 

The  positivist  religion  presents  to  us  as  an  ob- 
ject of  worship  a  trinity  of  existences — the  earth, 
space,  and  humanity.  The  earth  is  called  the 
Supreme  Fetich,  space  the  Supreme  Medium 
and  humanity  the  Supreme  Being.  The  positivist 
is  instructed  duly  to  commemorate  the  services  of 
our  common  mother,  the  earth,  and  of  her  coeval 
institution,  space  ;  but  humanity  is  to  be  the  chief 
object  of  his  worship.  True  piety  consists  in  hav- 
ing the  thoughts,  affections,  and  volitions  ever  bent 
on  the  preservation  and  amelioration  of  humanity. 
This  humanity  is  by  no  means,  however,  what  is 
ordinarily  called  humanity.     It  is  something  very 

TJie  Posit ivist  Rclizion.  20; 


peculiar  indeed.  It  is  neither  human  nature,  nor 
the  human  race,  nor  the  aggregate  of  living  men. 
It  is  said  to  be  an  organism  of  which  individuals 
and  generations,  whether  belonging  to  the  past, 
present,  or  future,  are  inseparable  parts,  and  yet  it 
excludes  multitudes  of  the  human  species,  and 
includes  some  of  the  lower  animals.  It  does  not 
comprehend  savage  and  unprogressive  peoples,  or 
individuals  without  any  particular  merits.  It  con- 
sists for  the  most  part  of  the  dead  and  the  unborn. 
The  majority  of  the  living  are  only  its  servants, 
without  the  power  at  present  of  becoming  its 
organs.  It  is  only  seven  years  after  they  are 
dead,  and  on  condition  of  their  being  found  worthy 
of  "subjective  immortality,"  that  they  are  to  be 
"  incorporated  in  the  Supreme  Being."  The  in- 
corporation is  to  be  effected  by  the  vote  of  the 
positivist  community.  As  the  positivist  believes 
in  the  annihilation  of  all  the  dead,  and  as  the 
future  generations  are  not  yet  in  existence,  his 
Supreme  Being  is  obviously  a  being  which  is 
largely  no  being  at  all,  an  entity  which  is  for  the 
most  part  a  non-entity.  The  notion  of  it  is,  in 
fact,  so  self-contradictory,  that  it  can  only  be 
expressed  in  language  which  seems  intended  to 
caricature  it. 

That  this  should  be  the  case  is  all  the  more 
remarkable,  because  Comte  was  fully  aware  how 
incumbent  upon  him  it  was  accurately  to   deter- 

2o6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

mine  what  was  to  be  meant  by  humanity.  He 
knew  and  acknowledged  that  a  clear  and  consis- 
tent conception  of  the  signification  of  the  term  was 
to  his  theory  of  religion  as  indispensable  as  is  a 
solid  and  well-laid  foundation-stone  to  a  building ; 
that  to  attain  and  exhibit  such  a  conception  was 
his  first  duty  in  connection  with  the  new  faith 
which  he  desired  to  propagate ;  and  that  if  he 
failed  in  this  part  of  his  self-imposed  task,  his 
failure  as  a  rival  of  St  Paul  must  be  fatal  and 
total.  Impressed  with  these  convictions,  he  could 
not,  as  a  conscientious  thinker,  do  otherwise  than 
bestow  much  labour  in  attempting  to  ascertain 
and  explain  the  nature  of  the  humanity  which  he 
represented  as  an  object  of  worship.  His  failure 
certainly  cannot  be  attributed  to  his  having  shrunk 
from  the  requisite  exertion.  He  toiled  long  and 
hard  on  the  subject.  Still  fail  he  did,  and  most 
signally.  The  notion  of  humanity  as  he  has  pre- 
sented it  in  the  'Positive  Polity,'  although  the 
very  corner-stone  of  his  religion,  is  so  self-con- 
tradictory and  incoherent,  that  it  can  only  be 
expressed  in  Hibernicisms.  It  is  composed  of 
concrete  and  abstract,  positive  and  metaphysical 
elements,  of  facts  and  fictions,  of  entity  and  non- 
entity. An  obvious  inference  is,  that  Comte  can- 
not have  founded  the  religion  of  humanity. 

While   the  object  of  the  positivist  faith  is  ex- 
tremely ill  defined,  its  organisation   and  worship 

The  Positivist  Religion.  207 

are  most  minutely  delineated.  This  is  the  conse- 
quence, however,  not  of  internal  self-consistency 
and  reasonableness,  but  of  imitation  of  Roman 
Catholicism.  While  Comte  abandoned  the  great 
and  comprehensive  principles  which  the  Roman 
Catholic  Church  holds  in  common  with  the  rest 
of  the  Christian  world,  he  retained  many  of  the 
distinctive  prejudices  which  it  sanctions  and  en- 
genders, and  copied  its  policy  and  ritual  in  describ- 
ing the  constitution  and  prescribing  the  worship 
of  what  he  believed  would  be  the  religion  of  the 
future.  He  demanded  that  there  should  be  set 
apart  to  the  service  of  humanity  an  order  of 
priests  or  savants,  composed  of  positivist  philoso- 
phers, hierarchically  arranged,  with  a  supreme 
pontiff  at  their  head,  to  whom  absolute  powers 
are  to  be  intrusted  in  intellectual  or  spiritual 
matters.  This  priesthood  is  to  be  salaried  by 
the  State  ;  is  to  have  the  entire  charge  of  public 
education  and  of  the  practice  of  medicine ;  and 
is  to  counsel,  and,  if  need  be,  reprove  the  temporal 
power.  The  high  priest  must  reside  in  Paris,  the 
holy  city  of  the  new  religion.  There  are  to  be 
ecclesiastical  courts  and  laws.  The  temples  should 
all  face  towards  Paris,  and  are  to  be  furnished 
with  altars,  images,  &c.  The  dress  of  the  clergy 
is  to  be  rather  more  feminine  than  masculine. 
Eighty  -  one  solemn  festivals,  secondary  or  prin- 
cipal, are  to  constitute  the  worship  annually  paid 

2o8  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

to  the  Great  Being  by  its  servants  assembled  in 
its  temples.  Each  step  in  life  is  to  have  its  special 
consecration,  and  hence  the  sacraments  of  the  new 
religion  are  to  be  nine  in  number, — presentation, 
initiation,  admission,  destination,  marriage,  matu- 
rity, retreat,  transformation,  and  incorporation. 
Private  prayers  are  to  be  presented  thrice  a-day ; 
the  morning  prayer  is  to  be  an  hour,  the  mid-day 
prayer  a  quarter  of  an  hour,  and  the  evening 
prayer  half  an  hour  in  length.  What  is  called 
"  the  beautiful  creation  of  the  medieval  mind — 
the  woman  with  the  child  in  her  arms,"  is  selected 
as  the  symbol  of  humanity;  and  "to  give  life  and 
vividness  to  this  symbol,  and  to  worship  in  general, 
each  positivist  is  taught  to  adopt  as  objects  of  his 
adoration  his  mother,  his  wife,  his  daughter,  allow- 
ing the  principal  part  to  the  mother,  but  blending 
the  three  into  one  compound  influence — represent- 
ing to  him  humanity  in  its  past,  its  present,  and 
its  future. 

I  must  not  more  minutely  describe  the  monstrous 
mixture  of  atheism,  fetichism,  ultramontanism,  and 
ritualism,  which  claims  to  be  the  Religion  of  Hu- 
manity, so  absurd  and  grotesque  is  it.  Almost 
its  only  noble  characteristic  is  the  spirit  of  disin- 
terestedness which  it  breathes,  the  stress  which  it 
lays  on  the  duty  of  living  for  the  good  of  others. 
In   this   respect   it   has   imitated,  although  longo 

The  Positivist  Religion.  209 

intervallo,  the  Gospel  of  Jesus  Christ.  But  unHke 
the  Gospel,  although  it  enjoins  love  to  one  another 
with  the  urgency  which  is  due,  it  unseals  no  fresh 
source  and  brings  to  light  no  new  motives  of  love. 
A  mere  doctrinal  inculcation  of  the  duty  of  active 
and  affectionate  beneficence,  under  the  barbarous 
name  of  altruism,  is  its  highest  service  as  a  sys- 
tem of  religion,  what  it  has  added  thereto  being 
worse  than  useless,  because  tending  to  render  even 
"  the  royal  law  "  of  love  itself  ridiculous.^ 

Is  it  not  instructive  that  Comte  should  have 
been  unable  to  devise  anything  better  than  the 
so-called  religion  of  which  I  have  been  speaking, 
and  that  neither  he  nor  any  other  person  who  has 
attempted  to  raise  a  substitute  for  Christianity  on 
the  basis  of  science  has  failed  signally  to  display 
his  own  feebleness  and  folly  ?  The  character  of 
the  religions  which  have  been  invented  in  the  pre- 
sent age  is  no  slight  indirect  confirmation  of  the 
divine  origin  of  the  religion  which  they  would 
displace.  If  all  that  men  can  do  in  the  way  of 
religious  invention,  even  in  the  nineteenth  century, 
and  with  every  help  which  science  can  give  them, 
is  like  what  we  have  seen  them  doing,  the  religion 
which  has  come  down  to  us  through  so  many  cen- 
turies can  have  been  no  human  invention.  It  could 
not  have  been  originated  by  science  ;  and  were  it 

^  See  Appendix  XXII. 

210  Anti-Tlieistic  Theories. 

withdrawn,  science  would  assuredly  find  no  substi- 
tute for  it.  Take  it  away  and  we  should  be  left 
even  at  this  hour  in  absolute  spiritual  darkness 
and  helplessness.  That  is  the  truth  which  all 
modern  attempts  to  found  and  form  new  religions 
concur  in  establishing. 

Secularism..  2 1 1 




The  subject  of  my  last  lecture  was  Positivism. 
Now  I  wish  to  speak  of  Secularism.  These  two 
theories  are  nearly  related  in  nature.  They  are 
manifestations  of  the  same  principles  and  tenden- 
cies. They  may  almost  be  said  to  be  the  two 
halves  of  the  same  whole ;  in  other  words,  secu- 
ralism  may  be  regarded  as  the  theory  of  life  or 
conduct  which  flows  from  the  theory  of  belief  or 
knowledge  that  constitutes  the  substance  of  posi- 
tivism. And  yet  it  would  be  an  error  to  represent 
secularism  as  historically  an  offshoot  of  positivism. 
It  may  fairly  claim,  I  believe,  to  be  as  much  of 
English  growth  as  positivism  must  be  admitted  to 
be  of  French  growth.  Its  representatives  have 
been,  it  is  true,  considerably  influenced  by  the 
writings  of  the  founder  of  positivism,  and  still  more 
influenced  by  the  writings  of  his  English  followers, 

212  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

particularly  by  those  of  Mr  J.  S.  Mill  and  G.  H. 
Lewes ;  but  in  the  main  their  scepticism  is  a 
native  product.  Thomas  Paine  and  Richard 
Carlile,  Jeremy  Bentham  and  James  Mill,  Robert 
Owen  and  George  Combe, — all  contributed  at  least 
as  much  to  the  formation  of  secularism  as  Auguste 

It  is  difficult,  or  rather  impossible,  to  ascertain 
to  what  extent  secularism  is  prevalent.  There  are, 
so  far  as  I  know,  no  reliable  statistics  on  the 
subject.  Many  are  doubtless  complete  secularists 
who  do  not  call  themselves  so,  and  who  belong  to 
no  secularist  society.  On  the  other  hand,  some 
who  call  themselves  secularists,  and  perhaps  even 
the  majority  of  the  members  of  some  of  the  secu- 
larist societies,  hold  probably  only  a  very  small 
part  of  what  is  usually  implied  by  the  term  secu- 
larism. Mr  Holyoake  represents  what  may  be 
called  one  school  of  secularists,  and  Mr  Brad- 
laugh  another ;  and  one  main  difference  between 
them  is,  that  the  former  denies  that  the  principles 
of  secularism  include  atheism,  while  the  latter 
affirms  that  they  do.  Yet  even  Mr  Bradlaugh 
does  not  hold  that  atheism  is  a  necessary  con- 
dition of  membership  in  secularist  associations. 
Such  membership  may,  consequently,  be  in  some, 
or  even  in  many  cases,  merely  the  expression  of 
more  or  less  dissatisfaction  with  the  theology 
taught   in   our   churches,  and   of  sympathy  with 

Prevalence  of  Seeularism.  215 

certain  projected  social  and  political  changes.  It 
may  not  exclude  either  belief  in  a  God  or  belief  in 
a  future  state.  Hence  even  those  who  ought  to 
know  best  the  strength  of  secularism  are  found 
to  differ  widely  from  one  another  as  to  what  its 
strength  is,  and  as  to  whether  its  strength  be  in- 
creasing or  not.  In  proof,  I  may  quote  from  the 
discussion  between  Messrs  Bradlaugh  and  Holy- 
oake  held  in  the  New  Hall  of  Science,  London, 
in  1870.  The  former  thus  replies  to  the  latter's 
statement  that  the  Freethought  party  is  in  a  state 
of  disorganisation :  "  I  presume  my  friend  means 
relatively  to  some  other  period  of  their  existence. 
It  is  so  disorganised,  that  I  think  we  can  send 
something  hke  a  hundred  petitions  to  the  House 
of  Commons  in  favour  of  any  measure  we  desire  to 
support.  It  is  so  disorganised,  that  within  three 
days  I  will  undertake  to  have  all  the  principal 
towns  of  England  and  Scotland  placarded  with 
any  particular  placard  which  it  is  desired  to  have 
brought  before  the  notice  of  the  people.  It  is  so 
disorganised,  that  there  is  not  a  large  town,  not 
a  village  in  England,  not  a  large  town  in  the  south 
of  Scotland,  and  not  many  in  the  north,  not  many 
in  the  south-west  of  Ireland,  that  within  four  or 
five  days  I  could  not  have  any  kind  of  communi- 
cation placed  by  the  hands  of  the  members  of  the 
Secular  Society  in  the  hands  of  the  clergymen  of 
those  towns.     I  am  not  speaking  of  what  could  be 

214  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

done.      I   am  speaking  of  what   has   been   done 
during  the  last  few  years.     Our  organisation  has 
been  such   that  we   have   played    a   part   in   the 
political  action   of  the  country  which  has   made 
itself  felt "  (p.  56).     Mr  Holyoake  answers  :  "  Mr 
Bradlaugh  wanders  through  this   land   proclaim- 
ing the  principles  of  secularism  as  though  they 
were  atheism,  and  arguing  with  the  clergy.     Why, 
when   I  go  now  to  Glasgow,  to  Huddersfield,  to 
Liverpool,   to    Manchester,   I   find   the   secularists 
there  unadvanced  in  position.    Even  in  Northamp- 
ton, which   Mr   Bradlaugh  knows,   I   found  them 
lately  meeting  on  the  second  floor  of  a  public- 
house,  where  I  found  them  twenty  or  twenty-five 
years   ago.      In   Glasgow   they  are   in   the   same 
second-rate  position  they  were  in  twenty- five  or 
thirty  years  ago.      What   have  we   been  doing  .^ 
Does  not  this  show  an  obsolete  policy  ?     Ranters, 
Muggletonians,  Mormons,  and  men  of  their  stamp, 
are  superior  to  acting  so.     Any  party  in  the  pre- 
sent  state   of   opinion    in   the   world    could   with 
thought  have  done  more.    The  most  ordinary  sects 
build  or  hire  temples,  and  other  places,  where  their 
people  decently  meet.     Mr  Bradlaugh,  with  all  his 
zeal  and  appeals,  finds  to-day  that  all  London  can 
do  is  to  put  up  this  kind  of  place  in  which  we  now 
meet  opposite  a  lunatic  asylum,  where  people,  so 
the  enemy  says,  naturally  expect  to  find  us.     He 
is  even  obliged  to  tell  you  that  at  the  West-end  of 

Prevalence  of  Secularism.  215 

London  he  does  not  think  highly  of  their  state. 
Now,  we  who  have  principles  of  materialism,  and 
descant  incessantly  on  their  superiority  and  effi- 
cacy, what  halls  of  splendour  and  completeness  we 
ought  to  put  up  !  .  .  .  All  that  Mr  Bradlaugh 
said  about  the  organisation  of  the  party  was  not 
an  answer  to  what  I  said.  I  spoke  of  the  organisa- 
tion of  ideas  in  it.  I  spoke  of  the  number  of  your 
paying  members  that  belong  to  your  societies  in 
any  part  of  the  country.  Look  at  the  poverty  of 
their  public  resources.  Look  at  the  few  people  of 
local  repute  that  will  consent  to  share  their  name 
and  association.  Why  do  they  not  do  it.''  Because 
they  find  no  definite  principle  set  down  which 
does  not  involve  them  in  atheism  and  infidelity. 
The  truth  is,  that  there  are  liberal  theists,  liberal 
believers  in  another  life,  liberal  believers  in  God, 
perfectly  willing  to  unite  together  with  the  extrem- 
est  thinkers,  for  secular  purposes,  giving  effect  to 
every  form  of  human  liberty — but  they  refuse  to 
be  saddled  with  the  opprobrium  of  opinions  they 
do  not  hold,  or  do  dislike." 

These  two  estimates  of  the  strength  and  progress 
of  secularism  by  its  two  best-known  representatives 
are  very  different,  and  yet  probably  they  are  not 
really  contradictory.  I  am  inclined  to  believe 
that  they  are  both  fair  and  unexaggerated  state- 
ments, and  that  if  we  combine  them,  instead  of 
contrasting  them,  we  shall  come  tolerably  near  to 

2i6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

the  truth.  If  secularism  be  dissociated  from  atheism 
it  may  be  as  strong  as  Mr  Bradlaugh  represents  it 
to  be,  while  if  explicitly  committed  to  atheism  it 
may  be  as  weak  as  Mr  Holyoake  represents  it  to 
be.  Some  of  the  advocates  of  atheistic  secularism 
speak  as  if  they  represented  the  great  body  of  the 
artisans  of  our  large  towns.  This  would  be  most 
alarming  if  it  were  true  ;  but  no  real  evidence  has 
been  produced  to  show  that  it  is  true,  and  I  for  one 
entirely  disbelieve  it.  I  should  be  surprised  if  in 
Edinburgh,  for  example,  there  were  not  on  the 
communion  rolls  of  many  a  single  congregation 
the  names  of  more  artisans — and  skilled  artisans 
too — than  there  are  of  avowedly  atheistical  secu- 
larists in  the  whole  city ;  and  yet,  I  daresay,  what 
secularists  there  are  could  get  a  large  number  of 
signatures  to  petitions  in  favour  of  purely  secular 
education,  the  disestablishment  and  disendowment 
of  the  National  Church,  the  abolition  of  the  House 
of  Lords,  and  a  great  many  other  things,  wise  and 
foolish.  On  the  other  hand,  it  may  not  improb- 
ably be  the  case  that  the  strength  of  the  most 
thorough  secularism  is  by  no  means  fully  repre- 
sented by  the  number  of  its  avowed  adherents ; 
that  many  are  decidedly  in  sympathy  with  it  who 
do  not  decidedly  attach  themselves  to  it ;  and  that 
many  are  on  the  way  which  would  lead  to  accept- 
ance of  the  atheism  which  it  teaches  who  have 
not  yet  reached  that  goal.     I  believe  that  atheism 

Rise  of  Secularism.  2 1 7 

is  more  diffused  at  present  among  the  literary 
classes  of  this  country  than  among  the  labouring 
classes ;  but  no  doubt  it  is  far  too  prevalent  among 
the  latter  also — so  prevalent  that  piety  and  patriot- 
ism both  demand  that  every  wise  effort  be  made 
energetically  to  counteract  it. 

Secularism  is  the  most  prevalent  form  of  unbelief 
amongst  the  manual  workers  of  this  country  ;  it  is 
almost  confined  to  them  ;  and  the  chief  causes  of 
its  spread,  and  of  the  character  which  it  bears, 
must  be  sought  for  in  their  history.  It  has  always 
been  closely  associated  with  political  dissatisfac- 
tion, and  no  candid  and  well-informed  person  will 
deny  that  the  political  dissatisfaction  has  been  to 
a  considerable  extent  reasonable  and  just.  The 
French  Revolution  caused  even  in  this  country  not 
merely  a  temporary  reaction  from  the  kind  of  un- 
belief which  prevailed  before  it,  but  a  sort  of  gen- 
eral anti-revolutionary  terror,  largely  characterised 
by  blindness,  bigotry,  and  violence.  The  terror 
gradually  died  away ;  and  the  blindness,  bigotry, 
and  violence  discredited  even  what  was  true  in  the 
principles  with  which  they  had  been  associated. 
The  long  war  with  France  and  a  selfish  and  unjust 
commercial  legislation  spread  wide  and  terrible 
suffering  among  the  poor;  and  the  blind  opposition 
of  the  governing  classes  to  political  progress,  and  of 
the  clergy  to  religious  freedom,  naturally  produced 
a  dangerous  irritation  which  gave  rise  at  once  to 

2i8  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

demands  for  the  most  radical  political  changes, 
and  to  the  most  sweeping  rejection  of  the  hitherto 
accepted  religious  beliefs. 

Mr  Owen,  whose  socialistic  views  found  for  a 
time  a  multitude  of  believers  sufficiently  sincere 
to  endeavour  to  realise  them  in  practice,  severely 
denounced  all  the  religions  of  the  world,  but  he 
never  ceased  to  be  a  theist,  and  latterly  became  a 
spiritualist.  Jeremy  Bentham  and  several  of  the 
group  of  thinkers  who  gathered  around  him  were 
atheists  ;  but,  although  far  from  timid  men,  they 
had  not  courage  enough  to  avow  publicly  their 
real  sentiments  on  the  subject  of  religion,  lest  by 
doing  so  they  should  lessen  their  influence  as  po- 
litical and  juridical  reformers.  It  was  only  from  the 
ranks  of  the  working  classes  that  there  came  forth 
men  with  the  full  courage  of  their  convictions — 
men  who  not  merely  dared  openly  to  avow  athe- 
ism, as  well  as  republicanism  and  socialism,  but  to 
defend  their  atheism  before  the  courts  of  law,  and 
to  endure  for  it  imprisonment  and  other  penalties. 
Such  men  were  Charles  Southwell,  Thomas  Cooper, 
George  Jacob  Holyoake,  Thomas  Paterson,  &c. ; 
and  these  men  are  to  be  regarded  as  the  founders 
and  first  propagators  of  Secularism.  It  would  be 
unjust  to  refuse  them  the  honour  due  to  their 
courage  and  honesty ;  and  there  can  be  no  doubt 
that  by  their  brave  and  self-sacrificing  conduct 
they  merited  well  of  their  fellow-countrymen,  no 

Persecution  of  Secularists.  219 

matter  how  erroneous  may  have  been  the  convic- 
tions for  which  they  suffered.  Those  who  prose- 
cuted them  supposed,  of  course,  that  they  were 
defending  Christianity,  but  Christianity  can  be 
defended  in  no  such  way.  It  forbids  all  prose- 
cution— all  persecution — for  the  sake  of  religion. 
Force  cannot  possibly  propagate  the  truth,  or 
produce  the  faith,  or  promote  the  love  in  which 
the  Gospel  consists.  The  Gospel  is  intolerant, 
indeed,  with  the  intolerance  which  is  inherent 
in  the  very  nature  of  truth.  Truth  can  only 
be  neglected  by  a  man  at  his  peril.  No  man  is 
morally  free  to  believe  a  lie  of  any  kind.  All 
truth  carries  with  it  the  right  to  be  believed,  and 
moral  truth  carries  with  it,  in  addition,  the  right 
to  be  obeyed.  The  Gospel  as  truth,  moral  and 
spiritual  truth,  the  highest  truth,  yea,  the  truth, 
does  demand  of  us  accordingly  that  w^e  both  be- 
lieve and  obey  it — that  we  submit  ourselves  to  it 
in  mind,  heart,  and  life.  It  holds  us  guilty  if  we 
do  not.  It  warns  us  that  either  unbelief  or  dis- 
obedience is  a  most  grievous  sin,  and  will  have 
most  grievous  consequences.  But  this  intolerance, 
if  it  be  intolerance,  has  nothing  to  do  with  coercion. 
Truth  cannot  be  furthered  by  force.  It  must  rest 
its  claims  to  allegiance  solely  on  evidence  sub- 
mitted to  the  scrutiny  of  reason  and  conscience ; 
and  if  its  evidence  be  rejected,  however  per- 
versely, there  is  no  help  for  that   in   compulsion, 

220  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories. 

which  can  only  add  to  what  sin  already  exists  the 
sin  of  hypocrisy.  Persecution  can  never  arise  from 
zeal  for  the  Gospel  as  truth — from  zeal  for  the  Gos- 
pel properly  understood.  If  ever  due  to  zeal  in 
any  measure,  and  not  to  pride,  selfishness,  anger, 
ambition,  and  other  hateful  lusts  which  war  against 
the  soul,  and  set  men  at  strife  and  war  with  one 
another,  it  must  be  to  a  zeal  which  is  in  alliance 
with  error.  Zeal  for  the  Gospel  and  erroneous 
views  of  its  nature  may  lead  to  persecution,  but 
never  zeal  and  true  views  of  its  nature.  If  the 
kingdom  of  God  be  thought  of  as  a  kingdom  of 
truth, — if  to  receive,  love,  and  obey  the  truth  as  it 
is  in  Jesus  be  felt  to  be  the  only  means  of  belong- 
ing to  it, — the  utmost  intensity  of  zeal  cannot  in- 
cline or  tempt  us  to  the  use  of  force,  since  force 
can  have  no  tendency  to  promote  the  interests  of 
such  a  kingdom.  The  men,  therefore,  who  by  their 
courage  and  endurance  were  specially  instrumental 
in  convincing  their  countrymen  that  persecution 
for  the  avowal  and  advocacy  even  of  atheism  is  a 
folly  and  a  crime,  have  really  rendered  a  service  to 
the  cause  of  Christian  truth,  and  their  names  will 
not  be  recorded  without  honour  when  the  history 
of  our  century  is  impartially  written. 

The  person  to  whom  Secularism  owes  its  name, 
and  who  has  done  most  to  make  it  what  it  is  in 
England,  is  George  Jacob  Holyoake,  and  it  is 
chiefly  as  presented  by  him  that  I  shall  consider  it 

Relation  of  Seailai'isni  to  AtJicisni.         221 

for  a  little.  In  doing  so,  we  must  determine  first 
how  secularism  is  related  to  religion.  As  I  have 
already  indicated,  there  is  on  this  point  a  funda- 
mental difference  of  opinion  among  secularists. 
Mr  Holyoake  and  those  who  agree  with  him  hold 
that  secularism  ought  to  start  with  the  study  of 
nature  as  manifested  to  us,  and  ignore  religion. 
Mr  Bradlaugh  and  those  who  agree  with  him  hold 
that  secularism  can  only  be  founded  in  the  disproof 
and  rejection  of  religion.  Mr  Holyoake  is  an  athe- 
ist in  the  same  sense  and  to  the  same  extent  as 
Mr  Bradlaugh.  He  objects,  however,  to  the  name, 
while  Mr  Bradlaugh  does  not.  The  ground  of  his 
objection  is  that  atheist  is  understood  to  mean 
''one  who  is  not  only  without  God,  but  without 
morality."  But  surely  it  can  only  be  in  very  bad 
dictionaries  and  by  very  uncandid  persons  that  the 
word  atheist  is  so  defined  and  employed.  It  pro- 
perly means  merely  a  man  who  thinks  that  there 
is  reason  for  disbelieving  that  there  is  a  God,  or  a 
man  who  thinks  that  there  is  no  reason  for  believ- 
ing that  there  is  a  God.  It  is  in  the  latter  sense 
that  both  Mr  Holyoake  and  Mr  Bradlaugh  are 
atheists,  and  the  former  is  so  as  much  as  the  latter, 
and  he  fully  acknowledges  this,  although  he  would 
prefer  to  be  called  a  cosmist  to  being  called  an 
atheist.  It  is  not  because  he  does  not  accept  and 
advocate  atheism  in  the  only  sense  in  which  it  is 
accepted  and  advocated  by  Mr  Bradlaugh  that  he 

222  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

entirely  differs  from   him   on  the  question  as  to 
whether  atheism  is  or  is  not  involved  in  secularism, 
What,  then,  are  his  reasons  for  maintaining  that 
secularism  ought  to  be  severed  from  atheism?    The 
first  is  that  the  severance  is  rationally  necessary. 
Secularism  is,  in  his  view,  a  theory  of  life  and  its 
duties  founded  exclusively  on  a  study  of  the  laws 
of  nature.      Theism,  pantheism,  and  atheism,  are 
all  hypotheses  as  to  the  origin  of  these  laws.     But 
if  we  know  what  the  laws  are  we  may  order  our 
life  according  to  them,  although  ignorant  of  their 
origin,  or  whatever  hypothesis  we  may  adopt  as  to 
their  origin.     Our  present  existence  is  a  fact ;  and 
men  may  agree,  and  ought  to  agree,  to  deal  with 
it    as    such,    although   they   cannot    agree   as   to 
whether  there  is  a  future  life  or  not.     "  To  ignore 
is  not  to  deny.     To  go  one  way  is  not  to   deny 
that  there  may  be,  to  other  persons,  another  way. 
To  travel  by  land  is  not  to  deny  the  water.     The 
chemist  ignores  architecture,  but  he  does  not  deny 
it.     And  so  the  secularist  concerns  himself  with 
this  world  without  denying  or  discussing  any  other 
world,  either  the  origin  of  this,  or  the  existence  of 

Now  I  think  this  reasoning  will  not  stand  even 
a  slight  examination.  One  science  is,  it  is  true, 
distinct  from  another,  and  yet  to  cultivate  one  is 
not  to  deny  another.  So  theology,  as  a  mere  de- 
partment of  thought,  is  distinct  from  the  physical 

Relation  of  Seciilavisin  to  AiJicisni.         223 

and  mental  sciences,  and  he  who  studies  the  latter 
may  not  direct  his  attention  to  the  former.  But 
observe,  first,  that  although  the  sciences  are  so  far 
distinct  that  to  cultivate  one  is  not  to  deny  another, 
they  are  also  so  related  that  he  who  cultivates  one 
cannot  afford  to  ignore  others.  The  student  of 
astronomy  will  not  succeed  if  he  ignores  mathe- 
matics. If  you  entertain  false  views  of  mechanical 
and  chemical  laws  you  will  never  correctly  explain 
geological  phenomena.  And  in  like  manner,  if 
there  be  a  theology  which  directly  or  indirectly 
denies  any  law  of  nature,  the  science  which  estab- 
lishes that  there  is  such  a  law  must  do  more  than 
merely  ignore  the  theology  which  disowns  it — it 
must  oppose  that  theology.  It  cannot  otherwise 
maintain  its  own  truth  and  self-consistency.  Then 
observe,  secondly,  that  secularism  is  not  mere  knov/- 
ledge,  but  an  art,  or  at  least  the  theory  of  an  art, 
professedly  based  on  knowledge,  and  that  con- 
sequently it  cannot  reasonably  ignore  any  kind  of 
knowledge  which  may  concern  it  as  an  art.  Archi- 
tecture is  an  art — the  art  of  building  houses — and 
as  such  it  cannot  afford  to  ignore  any  kind  of 
knowledge  that  bears  on  the  building  of  houses. 
An  architecture  which  took  no  account  of  the  law 
of  gravitation  and  other  principles  of  mechanics, 
of  the  properties  of  stone,  lime,  and  wood,  of  wind 
and  water,  light  and  air,  would  be  only  the  art  of 
trying  to  build   houses  that  would  not  stand,  or 

224  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

which  could  not  be  inhabited  if  they  did.  Apply 
this  to  the  case  before  us.  Secularism  professes 
to  teach  us  a  more  difficult  and  complex  art  than 
that  of  building  houses — the  art  of  ordering  our 
lives  aright  in  this  v/orld — the  art  of  properly  dis- 
charging our  duties  in  this  present  life ;  and  at 
the  same  time  secularism,  as  represented  by  Mr 
Holyoake,  tells  us  that  we  may  ignore  the  ques- 
tions, Is  there  a  God  }  is  there  a  future  world  t 
I  ask  if  such  secularism  be  not  precisely  like  an 
architecture  which  would  advise  us  to  take  no 
account  in  building  our  houses  of  light  and  air, 
and  therefore  not  to  trouble  ourselves  about  win- 
dows and  ventilators  }  Give  me  reason  to  believe 
that  there  is  no  God  and  no  future  existence,  and 
then  I  shall  have  reason  to  ignore  them  ;  but  to 
ask  me  to  ignore  them  before  you  have  done  so,  is 
neither  more  nor  less  than  to  ask  me  to  act  like  a 
fool.  If  I  cannot  find  out  that  there  is  a  God  or 
a  future  Hfe,  I  must  be  convinced  by  reason  that  I 
cannot.  If  I  can  find  out  anything  about  them,  I 
ought  to  do  my  best  to  find  out  as  much  about 
them  as  I  can.  And  whatever  I  find  out,  or  think 
I  find  out  about  them,  I  am  bound  as  a  reasonable 
and  moral  being  to  take  account  of  in  my  conduct 
in  this  life. 

But  Mr  Holyoake  has  another  reason.  He 
wishes  secularism  to  be  a  positive,  peaceful,  fruit- 
ful system.     He  dislikes  a  merely  negative  form 

Rdation  of  Secularism  to  Atheism.  225 

of  freethought.  He  comes  into  the  provinces  and 
finds  secularist  societies  ruled  by  young  orators 
who  are  mere  negationists,  who  have  no  capital  in 
principles,  whose  whole  stock-in-trade  is  denial  of 
what  somebody  else  holds,  and  he  says  that  that 
is  not  secularism  in  any  possible  sense,  and  does 
harm  rather  than  good  by  angering  people  instead 
of  instructing  them.  To  remedy  this  he  would 
have  secularists  to  intrench  themselves  in  the  in- 
culcation of  purely  secular  principles,  and  to  apply 
their  energies  directly  and  mainly  to  the  develop- 
ment and  realisation  of  these  principles,  with  little 
or  no  regard  either  to  atheism  or  theism. 

The  motive  originating  and  underlying  this 
argument  is  most  honourable  to  Mr  Holyoake, 
and  is  in  accordance  with  his  character.  But  I 
cannot  see  the  justice  of  it  in  itself.  It  does  not 
seem  relevant  against  even  a  secularist  like  Mr 
Bradlaugh,  because,  of  course,  he  is  able  to  reply 
that  he  teaches  atheism  because  he  thinks  theism 
very  pernicious,  so  that  to  destroy  it  is  to  do  a  vast 
amount  of  good  ;  and  that  he  also  teaches  what  is 
positive  in  secularism,  when  he  has  shown  that  he 
has  a  right  to  be  a  secularist  at  all.  Nor  can  the 
argument  recommend  itself  to  the  theist.  To  him 
Mr  Holyoake's  secular  principles,  in  so  far  as  they 
do  not  involve  atheism,  will  seem  to  belong  to 
himself  as  much  as  to  Mr  Holyoake.  What  truth 
of  science,  he  will  say,  is  there  which  I    do    not 


226  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

accept  as  much  as  you  ?  What  law  of  secular  duty 
do  you  acknowledge  which  I  reject  ?  As  a  theist 
I  am  bound  by  even  more  obligations  than  you 
are  to  honour  all  science  and  all  duty.  It  is  only 
by  your  atheism,  therefore,  and  by  the  negations 
implied  in  your  atheism,  that  you  can  distinguish 
yourself  from  me.  All  the  purely  positive  truth 
in  your  secularism,  all  the  science,  all  the  duty, 
is  not  more  yours  than  it  is  mine,  although  I  reject 
utterly  your  secularism,  and  maintain  that  man 
has  no  duties  more  important  than  those  which 
he  owes  to  his  God,  and  that  it  is  sheer  folly  for 
an  immortal  being  to  live  as  if  death  were  the  end 
of  all. 

It  must  be  added  that  Mr  Holyoake  acknow- 
ledges that  he  was  not  uninfluenced  in  the  forma- 
tion and  adoption  of  his  opinion  by  considerations 
of  expediency.  In  the  debate  already  referred  to 
he  said  :  "  The  principles  of  secularism,  which  I 
maintain  are  definable  quite  apart  from  the  Bible, 
quite  apart  from  atheism,  are  not  the  imaginary, 
or  incoherent,  or  capricious  selection  from  a  variety 
of  principles,  resting  merely  or  only  on  my  author- 
ity— they  were  principles  which  we  had  acquired 
by  the  slow  accretion  of  controversy,  by  contesting 
for  them  from  platform  to  platform  all  over  the 
country ;  and  when  they  were  drawn  up,  I  sub- 
mitted them  in  the  aggregate  form,  many  years 
after  they  had  been  separately  formulated,  to  Mr 

Relation  of  Secularism  to  Atheism.  227 

J.  S.  Mill,  and  asked  him  whether  or  not,  in  his 
judgm.ent,  we  had  made  such  a  statement  of 
secular  principles  as  were  worthy  to  stand  as  self- 
defensive  principles  of  the  working  class,  as  an 
independent  mode  of  opinion  which  should  no 
longer  involve  them  in  the  necessity  of  taking  on 
their  shoulders  the  responsibility  of  an  atheistic 
or  infidel  propagandism  except  when  it  suited  the 
purpose  of  a  member  to  do  it.  He  admitted  it  in 
terms  which  it  was  a  reward  to  read.  It  was  not 
until  we  had  the  sanction  of  one  so  competent  to 
judge,  that  these  principles  were  promulgated  in  a 
definite  manner  as  the  principles  of  a  party.  The 
reason  they  were  drawn  up  in  the  form  ultimately 
submitted  to  the  public  was  this :  we  found  in 
a  memorable  address  by  Sir  James  Stephen,  at 
Cambridge,  it  was  represented  that  Mr  Grote, 
Mr  Mill,  and  other  eminent  philosophers  whom,  he 
named,  had  been  so  outraged  by  the  offensive  ob- 
servations of  the  clergy — by  their  charging  every 
man  of  science  with  infidelity,  scepticism,  or  athe- 
ism— that  they  refused  any  longer  to  take  notice 
of  Christianity  ;  they  had  withdrawn  from  it,  they 
stood  apart  from  it,  they  constructed  a  system  of 
their  own,  they  had  a  philosophy  of  their  own, 
they  had  principles  whereby  they  regulated  their 
own  line  of  conduct ;  and  when  the  minister  spoke 
they  no  longer  felt  called  upon  to  regard  him  ;  they 
could   deny  his  authority  to   give  an   opinion  on 

228  Anti-Theislic  Theories. 

their  proceedings.  The  clergyman  apphes  to  them, 
but  they  make  no  response  ;  he  preaches  his  doc- 
trine, but  they  condescend  to  no  criticism.  The 
result  is,  the  clergyman,  when  too  late,  has  to 
exclaim,  '  The  philosophers  pass  us  by,  they  ignore 
Christianity,  and  in  the  end  we  shall  have  to  be- 
come suppliants  for  their  attention,  because  we 
repelled  them  when  they  were  suppliants  for  ours.' 
Now  it  struck  me,  that  was  a  far  prouder  and  more 
triumphant  thing  to  accomplish  than  any  wild 
warring  against  theologians  ;  we  were  at  the  mercy 
of  their  overwhelming  power.  My  purpose  was  to 
put  into  the  hands  of  the  working  classes  prin- 
ciples which  should  serve  their  purpose  in  the 
same  way,  and  make  them  equally  independent 
and  equally  proud,  defiant,  and  unassailable." 

This  seems  to  me  to  be  an  argument  of  a  lower 
type.  It  is  an  appeal  to  policy  such  as  one  would 
scarcely  have  expected  from  Mr  Holyoake.  A 
man  who  had  so  courageously  avowed  the  most 
unpopular  sentiments  regarding  religion,  and  so 
unflinchingly  borne  the  consequences,  might  well 
have  been  supposed  little  to  admire  the  conduct 
of  any  one  who,  however  eminent,  should  shrink 
from  the  responsibility  implied  in  the  conviction 
that  Christianity  is  a  gigantic  delusion,  and  ven- 
ture only  to  attack  it  secretly,  anonymously,  or 
posthumously.  If  Christianity  be,  in  the  judg- 
ment of  any  person,  an  imposture,  which  has  pro- 

Relation  of  Sccularisvi  to  AtJicisiii.  229 

duced,  and  is  daily  producing,  a  host  of  moral, 
social,  and  political  evils,  how  can  he,  as  an  honest 
man,  take  no  notice  of  it,  or  even  slight  notice  of 
it  ?  Is  he  not  as  much  bound  earnestly  to  assail 
it  as  one  who  esteems  it  an  incalculable  blessing 
is  bound  zealously  to  defend  and  propagate  it  ? 
Is  he  not  all  the  more  bound  to  oppose  it,  because 
its  influence  is  wide  and  powerful  ?  He  who  is  not 
for  it  must  be  against  it.  Neutrality  is  logically 
and  morally  impossible.  Reason  and  conscience 
prescribe  a  policy  which  must  be  conformed  to 
whatever  expediency  may  suggest,  and  that  policy 
is  not  one  of  concealment  and  evasion.  But  even 
an  expediency  which  is  real  and  not  merely  ap- 
parent, universal  and  not  simply  individual,  must 
declare  against  the  course  recommended  by  Mr 
Holyoake.  Supposing  Sir  James  Stephen's  ac- 
count of  the  conduct  of  Mr  Grote,  Mr  Mill,  &c., 
to  have  been  correct,  was  the  policy  attributed  to 
them  really  beneficial  to  any  person  but  them- 
selves, and  those  whom  they  regarded  as  their 
opponents  t  Mr  Grote  writing  his  '  History  of 
Greece,'  and  Mr  Mill  writing  his  '  Logic,'  were,  no 
doubt,  admirably  employed,  and  deservedly  merit- 
ing the  gratitude  of  their  contemporaries  and  of 
posterity;  but  what  did  they  effect  thereby  against 
Christianity.?  How  did  they  injure  it  by  ignoring 
it  "i  Who  were  the  clergymen  who  became  sup- 
pliants for  their  attention  t    Was  there  any  clergy- 

230  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

man  so  stupid  as  to  expect  that  Christianity  should 
be  either  attacked  or  defended  in  a  '  History  of 
Greece/  or  in  a  scientific  treatise  on  '  Logic '  ?  The 
policy  ascribed  to  Mr  Grote  and  Mr  Mill  is  as 
absurd  as  would  be  that  of  an  admiral  who,  if 
ordered  to  reduce  Cronstadt,  should,  by  way  of 
carrying  out  his  commission,  stay  in  London  and 
write  a  work  on  mechanics  or  navigation.  That 
might  be  good  policy  for  him,  but  it  would  have 
little  effect  on  Cronstadt.  Christianity  cannot 
and  will  not  leave  secularism  alone.  If  it  have 
any  belief  in  itself,  any  life  and  sincerity,  it  must 
attack  by  all  fair  means  a  system  so  utterly  alien 
to  itself.  Is  secularism  prepared  to  renounce  the 
right  of  reply  and  counter-attack  .'*  I  should  be 
rejoiced  to  hear  it;  but  I  must  candidly  admit 
that  the  reasons  of  my  satisfaction  would  be  a 
conviction  that  the  policy  would  prove  a  very  bad 
one  for  secularism,  and,  still  more,  the  belief  that 
its  adoption  might  be  accepted  as  a  sign  that 
secularists  distrusted  their  power  to  refute  the 
claims  of  Christianity. 

I  fail  to  see,  then,  that  Mr  Holyoake's  position 
is  at  all  an  intelligible  one.  Mr  Bradlaugh's  I 
quite  understand  ;  indeed,  it  would  be  rather  diffi- 
cult not  to  understand  words  like  these:  "What 
we  say  is,  and  what  you  do  not  say  is,  that  the- 
ological teachings  prevent  human  improvement, 
and  that  It  is  the  duty  of  every  secularist  to  make 

Relation  of  Secularism  to  Atheism.  231 

active  war  on  theological  teachings.  It  is  no  use 
saying,  ignore  the  clergy.  You  cannot  talk  of 
ignoring  St  Paul's  Cathedral — it  is  too  high.  You 
cannot  talk  of  ignoring  the  Religious  Tract  So- 
ciety—  it  is  too  wealthy.  You  cannot  talk  of 
ignoring  Oxford  and  Cambridge  Universities — 
they  are  too  well  endowed.  They  command 
too  many  parties  to  enable  you  to  ignore  their 
power,  but  you  may  strive  to  crush  it  out  a 
little  at  a  time.  You  cannot  strike  all  errors 
effectually  at  once,  but  you  can  strike  at  some 
and  encourage  others  to  strike  too.  This  is  the 
secularist's  work  Paine  and  Carlile  cut  out  years 
ago.  This  is  the  secularist's  work  Southwell 
and  yourself  undertook.  This  is  the  secularist's 
work  in  which  every  man  has  got  his  share  to  do, 
who  feels  as  I  feel.  The  secularist's  work  which 
we  have  to  do  is  to  cut  down,  as  my  friend  put  it, 
the  banyan-tree  of  superstition,  which  tree  seeks 
to  send  its  roots  down  into  every  baby  brain,  and 
which  holds  by  the  habit-faith  of  the  rich,  and  by 
the  ignorant  credulity  of  the  poor.  Every  branch 
of  this  superstitious  tree  bears  poisonous  fruit ; 
but  before  you  can  get  the  branches  effectively 
destroyed,  you  must  cut  away  the  roots  as  well 
as  gently  train  the  tree.  The  upas-tree  of  reli- 
gion overspreads  the  whole  earth  ;  it  hides  with 
its  thick  foliage  of  churchcraft  the  rays  of  truth 
from  humankind,  and  we  must  cut  at  its  root  and 

232  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

strip  away  its  branches  that  reason's  rays  may  go 
shining  through,  and  give  fertility  to  the  human 
soil,  long  hidden  from  their  genial  warmth." 

There  can  be  no  doubt  what  this  means  ;  no 
doubt  that  it  signifies  war, — war  open  and  inces- 
sant— a  war  of  life  and  death — war  to  the  utter- 
most. So  be  it.  There  really  is,  I  believe,  no 
other  relationship  possible  between  religion  and 


Let  us  now  proceed  to  the  consideration  of  the 
leading  positive  principles  of  secularism. 

The  first  of  these,  as  stated  by  Mr  Holyoake, 
is,  "That  precedence  should  be  given  to  the 
duties  of  this  life  over  those  which  pertain  to 
another  life."  And  the  reason  alleged  for  it  is, 
that  *'  this  life  being  the  first  in  certainty,  ought  to 
have  the  first  place  in  importance."  "  We  do  not 
say  that  every  man  ought  to  give  an  exclusive 
attention  to  this  world,  because  that  would  be  to 
commit  the  old  sin  of  dogmatism,  and  exclude  the 
possibility  of  another  world,  and  of  walking  by 
different  light  from  that  by  which  alone  we  are 
able  to  walk.  But  as  our  knoiuledge  is  confined  to 
this  life,  and  testimony  and  conjecture  and  prob- 
ability are  all  that  can  be  set  forth  with  respect 
1  See  Appendix  XXIII. 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  233 

to  another  life,  we  think  we  are  justified  in  giving 
precedence  to  the  duties  of  this  state,  and  of  attach- 
ing primary  importance  to  the  morahty  of  man  to 
man."  ^ 

I\Ir  Holyoake  expresses  his  principle  in  this 
form  so  that  he  may  not  exclude  theists  from  the 
secularist  ranks.  The  message  of  secularism  to 
them  is,  Be  more  worldly  and  less  pious  ;  think 
much  about  this  world  and  little  about  the  next ; 
much  about  man  and  little  about  God.  I  know 
no  message  which  the  world  needs  less,  seeing  that 
it  is  one  which  not  only  avowed  secularists,  but 
millions  of  professed  Christians,  are  already  acting 
on  with  all  their  might.  It  is  true,  however,  that 
all  but  convinced  atheists  and  the  most  careless  of 
men  have  hitherto  felt  that  doing  so  was  wrong  and 
inexcusable.  There  are  few  men  even  among  those 
most  engrossed  by  the  cares  and  interests  of  this 
present  life,  who  have  not  at  times  felt  that  there 
is  another  life  of  which  it  were  well  to  think  more. 
Bibles  and  religious  books,  sermons  and  Sundays, 
the  monitions  of  conscience,  the  reflections  of  rea- 
son, "  sorrow  dogging  sin,  afflictions  sorted,  anguish 
of  all  sizes,"  the  rapid  flight  of  time,  the  instability 
of  human  things,  the  loss  of  friends,  the  warnings 
of  disease,  the  prognostications  of  death,  all  speak 
of  the  claims  of  eternity;  and  few  have  not  thereby 

^  'Discussion  between  the  Rev.  Brewin  Grant  and  G.  J.  Holy- 
oake* (London,  1853),  p.  39. 

234  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

been  sometimes  at  least  transiently  impressed  with 
the  conviction  that  these  claims  had  been  sadly 
neglected.  But  secularism  scouts  the  idea.  It 
says  to  the  merely  nominal  Christian,  to  the  man 
who  lives  as  if  his  religion  were  a  dream  or  a  lie, 
that  he  is  quite  right ;  and  it  says  this,  if  Mr 
Holyoake  be  a  correct  interpreter  of  it,  not  on  the 
ground  that  religion  is  a  delusion  or  a  lie,  but  on 
the  ground  that  the  present  life  is  more  certain 
and  more  important  than  another  life. 

This  would  be  a  very  comfortable  doctrine  to 
many  minds,  if  it  were  not  so  irrational  that  only 
very  few  will  be  able  to  believe  it.  There  is  nothing 
particularly  certain  about  the  present  life.  What 
is  certain  even  about  the  present  moment,  except 
that  before  you  can  so  much  as  think  of  it  it  has 
already  ceased  to  be,  and  you  can  no  longer  either 
discharge  duty  or  enjoy  pleasure  in  it }  The  present 
is  so  evanescent  that  it  hardly  concerns  us  at  all. 
And  as  to  the  future,  who  is  certain  of  what  a  day 
or  an  hour  will  bring  forth  }  Who  can  reckon  with 
confidence  on  to-morrow  1  We  may  easily  be  far 
more  certain  of  the  existence  of  God  and  of  the 
immortality  of  the  soul  than  that  we  shall  be  alive 
on  the  morrow.  The  one  thing  certain  about  this 
life  is  that  it  is  uncertain.  And  as  it  is  not  only 
uncertain  but  short  at  the  longest,  the  notion  that 
it  can  be  more  important  than  eternal  life  is  a  fancy 
for  which  there  can  be  no  possible  warrant. 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  235 

The  secularist  principle  in  question  is  erroneous 
for  this  further  reason,  that  it  falsely  distinguishes 
duties  into  duties  of  this  life  and  duties  which 
pertain  to  another  life.  That  is  not  a  distinction 
which  can  be  reasonably  defended.  If  there  be  a 
God,  the  duties  which  we  owe  to  Him  are  duties  of 
this  life.  If  there  be  a  future  world,  it  is  owx pres- 
ent duty  to  take  full  account  of  that  fact.  On  the 
other  hand,  all  our  duties  are  duties  to  God,  and 
the  way  in  which  all  our  duties  are  discharged  will 
have  an  influence  on  our  eternal  destiny.  There 
is  thus  no  absolute  separation  possible  between 
secular  and  spiritual  duties  ;  and  still  less  can  they 
be  rationally  opposed.  A  man  who  neglects  any 
of  his  so-called  secular  duties  must  look  for  God's 
disapproval.  He  who  would  live  a  truly  pious  life 
must  work  the  works  of  integrity  and  uprightness, 
of  benevolence  and  mercy,  of  temperance,  prudence, 
and  industry.  A  man  will  surely  not  do  his  duty 
in  and  for  this  world  worse  but  better  because  he 
feels  that  God  blesses  his  efforts  in  the  cause  of 
truth  and  goodness  ;  and  that  when  the  labours  of 
life  are  ended,  he  will,  if  he  have  acquitted  himself 
faithfully,  enter  not  into  utter  annihilation  but  into 
eternal  happiness. 

It  is,  then,  most  irrational  and  improper  advice 
to  tell  a  man  who  believes  it  even  probable  that 
there  is  a  God,  or  that  there  is  a  future  world,  that 
he  may  be  comparatively  heedless  of  his  duties 

22)6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

and  Interests  as  regards  them  without  guilt  or 
danger.  If  a  man  disbelieve  in  God  and  the 
future  world,  or  believe  that  nothing  can  be  known 
about  them,  he  cannot,  of  course,  be  reasonably 
expected  to  give  them  even  a  subordinate  place 
either  in  thought  or  practice.  He  can  owe  no  duty 
to  what  does  not  exist, —  no  thought  to  the  un- 
knowable. If  this  world  be  all  that  our  intellects 
can  apprehend,  our  sole  attention  should  be  given 
to  it.  Secularism,  in  order  to  be  self- consistent, 
must  be  complete,  must  be  as  exclusive  as  Chris- 
tianity, must  demand  for  the  world  our  whole 
mind  and  heart,  our  whole  strength  and  life.  But 
in  this  form  it  is  obviously  a  doctrine  which  none 
but  convinced  and  confirmed  atheists  can  do  other- 
wise than  utterly  repudiate.  It  is  a  doctrine,  also, 
by  which  the  world  will  only  lose.  No  good  cause 
on  earth  will  be  more  energetically  promoted,  no 
evil  cause  will  be  more  energetically  opposed,  with- 
out faith  in  God  and  His  eternal  mercy  and  justice 
than  with  it.  Where  the  love  of  God  is  not,  love  to 
man  will  certainly  not  be  stronger  in  consequence. 
A  second  secularist  principle  is,  that  "  science  is 
the  providence  of  man,  and  that  absolute  spiritual 
dependency  may  involve  material  destruction."  If 
men,  we  are  told,  would  have  things  go  well  with 
them,  they  m^ust  discover  and  apply  the  laws  of 
nature.  They  must  learn  what  is  true  before  they 
can  do  what  is  right,  or  can  so  act  as  to  secure 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  237 

happiness.  Evil  can  be  warded  off  and  good  can 
be  obtained  only  by  following  the  directions  of 
science  ;  prayer  is  useless,  experience  proving  that 
it  receives  no  answer ;  dependence  on  providence 
is  a  delusion,  as  we  are  under  the  dominion  of 
general  laws,  and  special  providence  there  is  none. 

This  is  the  substance  of  an  argument  which  in 
Mr  Holyoake's  hands  assumes  many  forms,  and 
which  all  secularists  often  employ.  There  is  noth- 
ing true  in  it,  however,  to  which  the  theist  cannot 
cordially  assent.  He  believes  that  every  law  dis- 
covered by  science  is  a  law  of  God  to  which  man 
is  bound  to  pay  due  respect.  The  whole  of  science 
is  more  sacred  to  him  than  it  can  possibly  be  to 
the  secularist,  for,  in  addition  to  having  the  sacred- 
ness  of  truth,  it  has  the  sacredness  of  being  a 
manifestation  of  God's  character  and  will.  Unless 
a  very  unintelligent  and  inconsistent  man,  indeed, 
he  must  feel  more  deeply  than  the  secularist  that 
every  truth  of  science  is  entitled  to  his  reverence, 
and  to  such  obedience  as  he  can  give  to  it.  He 
can  make  no  exclusions,  exceptions,  or  reserva- 
tions, but  must  accept  science  in  all  its  length  and 
breadth,  so  far  as  his  powers  and  opportunities 
extend.  Secularism  has  no  peculiar,  and  still  less 
any  exclusive,  right  to  science.  Theism  has  at 
least  an  equal  claim  to  it,  and  .to  whatever  good 
can  be  derived  from  it. 

All  that  properly  belongs  to  secularism  is  the 

238  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

denial  of  the  utility  of  prayer  and  the  existence  of 
providence.  It  opposes  science  to  prayer  and  pro- 
vidence. But  this  is  what  those  who  believe  in  the 
two  latter  never  do,  so  that  the  prayer  and  pro- 
vidence attacked  by  secularism  are  conceptions  or 
misconceptions  of  its  own.  The  theist  believes  in 
prayer,  but  he  does  not  believe  in  mere  prayer — 
in  prayer  which  despises  the  use  of  means — in 
prayer  which  dispenses  with  watching  and  work- 
ing. He  believes  in  providence,  but  he  does  not 
believe  in  tempting  providence — in  casting  himself 
down  from  a  height  with  the  expectation  that 
angels  will  take  charge  of  him — in  a  spiritual  de- 
pendency which  neglects  the  aids  to  material 
safety.  The  man  who  truly  prays  cannot  credit 
the  allegation  that  experience  proves  that  prayer 
receives  no  answer.  That  is  not  his  experience. 
He  is  conscious  of  having  daily  asked  for  spiritual 
blessings,  and  conscious  of  having  daily  received 
them.  Pie  knows  a  sphere  of  existence  in  which 
not  the  exception  to  the  law  but  the  law  itself  is, 
Seek  and  ye  shall  find,  Ask  and  it  shall  be  given 
unto  you — a  realm  where  sincere  and  earnest  peti- 
tions are  always  directly  accomplished.  There  are 
innumerable  blessings,  unfortunately  unknown  and 
unvalued  by  the  secularist,  although  they  are  far 
more  real  and  precious  than  bodily  and  external 
advantages  ;  and  these  blessings,  which  science  does 
not  pretend  to  offer  us,  and  which  general   laws 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism,  239 

do  not  bring-  us,  unless  prayer  itself  be  included 
among  general  laws,  the  experience  of  all  who 
have  sincerely  asked  them,  or,  in  equivalent  terms, 
the  experience  of  all  who  have  truly  prayed  testi- 
fies, are  never  withheld.  In  asking  for  these  bless- 
ings, which  are  the  main  objects  of  prayer,  we  can 
ask  unconditionally  and  absolutely,  directly  and 
definitely,  not  even  needing,  as  it  were,  to  say, 
Thy  will  be  done,  since  we  already  assuredly 
know  that  God's  will  is  to  grant  them  to  whoever 
truly  asks  them,  while  He  will  not,  yea  cannot, 
grant  them  to  those  who  do  not  ask.  Other  bless- 
ings, however  seemingly  desirable,  reasonable  and 
pious  men  seek  only  in  subordination  to  spiritual 
blessings.  They  never  ask  for  them  except  con- 
ditionally. They  are  conscious  that  what  they 
think  best  may  be  really  bad,  and  that  what  mere 
nature  shrinks  from  most  may  be  for  their  highest 
good.  They  ask,  therefore,  for  apparent  temporal 
good  only  in  so  far  as  it  may  be  agreeable  to  God 
to  give  it,  and  with  the  added  supplication  that 
He  will  give  or  withhold  according  to  His  pleas- 
ure, since  His  pleasure  is  ever  in  His  children's 
w^elfare.  All  true  prayer  for  temporal  things  is 
essentially  prayer  that  God's  will  in  regard  to 
these  things  may  become  our  will,  through  our 
will  being  elevated  and  conformed  to  His ;  it  cer- 
tainly never  is  prayer  that  His  will,  whether  hid 
in  His  eternal  counsels  or  expressed  in  His  gen- 

240  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

eral  laws,  should  yield  and  give  place  to  a  will  so 
blind  and  arbitrary  as  ours.  There  is  no  evidence 
that  a  single  true  prayer  has  been  unanswered. 
There  is  the  evidence  of  every  truly  prayerful 
man's  experience  that  prayer  is  daily  answered, 
and  that  it  brings  light,  and  strength,  and  blessing 
where  science  is  utterly  powerless  and  useless. 

Science  is  admirable,  and  we  grudge  it  no  praise 
to  which  it  is  entitled ;  but  we  must  deny  that  it 
can  be  a  substitute  for  providence.  It  is  at  the 
utmost  an  indication  of  some  of  the  rules  —  a 
delineation  of  part  of  the  plan — of  providence.  It 
has  no  existence  in  itself,  no  power  of  its  own.  It 
is  but  a  name  for  a  kind  of  human  knowledge, 
which  must  be  appropriated  and  applied  by  a 
human  mind  before  it  can  be  of  any  avail.  It  will 
only  be  of  use  to  us  if  we  make  use  of  it.  We  may 
either  make  a  good  or  a  bad  use  of  it.  We  con- 
stantly see  it  employed  to  injure  men  as  well  as 
to  benefit  them.  There  is  as  much  science  dis- 
played on  the  battle-field  as  in  the  hospital  or 
the  factory.  The  possession  of  it  is  no  guarantee 
whatever  that  it  will  be  honourably  and  bene- 
ficially employed.  To  use  science  worthily  and 
well  we  must  not  only  be  conversant  with  it,  but 
we  must  be  good  men.  How  are  men  to  be  good, 
however — how  are  they  to  have  right  affections 
and  aims — without  dependence  on  God,  without 
prayer,  without  Divine  grace  }     This  is  a  problem 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  241 

which  secularism  must  consider  far  more  seriously 
than  it  has  done.  Science  does  not  make  men 
good  ;  and  where  men  are  bad,  science  will  be  per- 
verted to  the  service  of  evil.  But  surely  nothing 
which  is  merely  instrumental,  and  especially  noth- 
ing which  can  be  perverted,  is  properly  designated 

The  third  fundamental  principle  of  secularism 
is,  that  man  has  an  adequate  rule  of  life  indepen- 
dently of  belief  in  God,  immortality,  or  revelation. 
Morality  and  not  religion,  it  maintains,  is  our  busi- 
ness. The  former  is  not  based  on  the  latter,  nor 
inseparable  from  it,  nor  even  advantageously  asso- 
ciated with  it.  We  can  and  ought  to  disjoin  them. 
Abandoning  religion,  we  should  cultivate  a  purely 
natural  and  human  morality.  An  adequate  stand- 
ard of  such  morality,  secularists  generally  believe, 
may  be  found  in  utility.  Secularism  has  practi- 
cally adopted  utilitarianism  as  its  ethical  doctrine, 
and  maintains  that  it  supplies  a  guide  of  conduct 
which  is  independent  of  religion. 

Now  I  do  not  oppose  secularism  at  this  point 
by  arguing  that  morality  is  founded  on  religion. 
It  is,  on  the  whole,  more  correct  to  say  that 
religion  is  founded  on  morality  than  that  morality 
is  founded  on  religion.  We  cannot  know  God  as 
a  moral  Being  to  whom  we  stand  in  moral  rela- 
tions, if  we  have  no  moral  notions  until  we  know 
God,  if  we  are  unconscious  of  moral  relationship 


242  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

until  conscious  of  Divine  relationship.     A  man,  we 
admit,  may  endeavour  to  regulate,  and  may  so  far 
actually  regulate,  his  life,  from  a  regard  to  what  is 
due  to  humanity,  without  any  reference  to  God. 
He  may  attend  to  what  reason  and  conscience  tell 
him  should  be  his  conduct  to  his  fellow-men,  the 
lower  animals,  and  himself,  and  put  away  every 
idea  of  duty  to  the  Divine  Being,  of  regard  to  the 
Divine  will.      But   clearly  this  morality  is  most 
defective  unless  it  can  justify  itself  by  proof  that 
there  is  no  God,  or  that  nothing  is  due  to  God. 
If  there  be  a  God,  and  especially  if  God  be  the 
very  author  of  our  moral  nature  and   the  moral 
law,  to  pay  no  moral  regard  to  Him  must  be  most 
wicked  behaviour.     If  there  be  a   God,  morality 
must  be  as  incomplete  when  religious  duties  are 
neglected  as  it  would  be  were  no  attention  given 
to  personal  or  social  duties. 

Further,  the  morality  which  ignores  religion  is 
inherently  weak  because  inherently  self-contradic- 
tory. There  is  in  the  very  nature  of  the  moral 
law  a  reference  to  God  which  cannot  be  denied 
without  disrespect  to  its  whole  authority.  The 
law  bids  man  sacrifice  pleasure,  property,  reputa- 
tion, life  itself,  everything,  if  need  be,  to  duty.  But 
can  this  moral  law  be  a  righteous  and  rational  law 
on  any  other  supposition  than  that  the  sacrifice 
will  not  be  in  vain,  and  that  the  power  which, 
through   conscience,    demands    the   sacrifice,   will 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  243 

justify  the  demand  by  the  final  issue  of  things, 
the  eventual  victory  of  the  right  over  pleasure  and 
expediency?  I  cannot  see  how  it  can.  The  notion 
of  a  law  demanding  that  a  man  should  sacrifice 
not  merely  apparent  to  real  good,  or  a  lower  to  a 
higher  good,  but  his  real  and  highest  good — that 
he  should  lose  life  and  soul  without  hope  of  finding 
them  acrain — is  the  notion  of  a  moral  law  which  is 
profoundly  immoral.  Conscience  in  enjoining  such 
a  law  must  be  at  hopeless  variance  with  reason  and 
with  itself.  If  a  man  say,  "  I  will  not  obey  such 
a  law,"  conscience  will  condemn  him,  and  yet  it 
must  also  acquit  him  and  condemn  itself.  In 
other  words,  conscience  and  moral  law  require,  in 
order  to  be  self-consistent  and  reasonable,  to  be 
supplemented  by  the  notion  of  a  moral  govern- 
ment and  a  moral  Governor.  The  demands  of 
duty  necessarily  imply  that  both  humanity  and 
nature  are  under  the  rule  of  a  God  of  righteous- 
ness and  are  moving  onwards  to  a  moral  goal — the 
triumph  of  goodness.  "  It  is  not  enough  to  know," 
says  Ullmann,  "  that  the  good  has  a  certain  author- 
ity and  supreme  right  given  it  by  man.  No ;  we 
must  possess  a  much  higher  assurance  ;  we  must 
be  convinced  that  the  final  triumph  of  goodness  is 
a  part  of  the  grand  world-plan  ;  that  the  great 
design  of  creation,  the  reason  for  which  the  world 
exists,  is,  that  goodness  may  come  to  its  full  real- 
isation.     And  this  certainly  can  be  gained  only 

244  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

from  the  conviction  that  the  moral  law  of  human 
life  has  its  source  in  the  very  same  power  which 
called  the  whole  economy  of  the  world  into  exist- 
ence, and  which  is  conducting  it  to  its  goal.  If, 
then,  the  moral  law  be  necessarily  derived  from  a 
personal  Being,  even  from  Him  who  created  and 
governs  the  universe,  then  is  the  source  of  the 
moral  law  none  other  than  the  living,  the  personal 

Again,  religion  may  be  admitted  not  to  be  the 
foundation  of  morality  and  yet  maintained  to  be  a 
sanction  of  morality,  which  supplies  to  it  motive 
and  inspiration.  In  this  respect  its  moral  value 
may  be  immense.  What  do  all  men  stand  so 
much  in  need  of  as  motive  power  to  love  and  do 
what  is  right }  Our  moral  theories  may  be  unex- 
ceptionable, while  our  moral  practices  are  inexcus- 
able. We  may  have  a  clear  and  accurate  appre- 
hension of  the  whole  moral  code,  and  yet  not  the 
heart  or  will  to  execute  aright  a  single  precept 
of  it.  To  know  the  moral  law  is  not  enough  ;  to 
do  it — in  all  its  length  and  breadth — with  the 
whole  heart,  strength,  and  might,  is  what  is  re- 
quired. Whence  are  we  to  get  power  to  do  it 
«apart  from  religion  t  The  best  men  the  world  has 
fseen  have  confessed  in  all  ages  that  they  could  not 
find  this  power  in  themselves,  and  were  even  cer- 
tain that  it  was  not  in  themselves.  The  more  I 
interrogate  consciousness   and   history,  the  more 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  245 

convinced  I  become  that  they  were  not  deluded, 
and  that  if  we  feel  differently  it  is  not  because 
we  are  better  or  know  better  than  they,  but  be- 
cause we  are  worse  and  know  ourselves  worse.  It 
is  only  through  a  power  above  nature  that  nature 
can  be  raised  above  itself,  and  that  morality  can 
be  "lighted  up  with  the  emotion  and  inspiration 
needful  for  carrying  the  sage  along  the  narrow 
way  perfectly,  for  carrying  the  ordinary  man 
along  it  at  all."  And  how  can  a  man  fail  to 
draw  strength  from  faith  in  God  }  How  can  he 
believe  in  a  God  of  perfect  justice  without  being 
encouraged  and  strengthened  to  do  justice  ?  or 
in  a  God  of  love  without  having  a  powerful  in- 
ducement to  love  all  the  creatures  of  God,  and 
to  perform  works  of  love  t  Is  there  no  power  to 
arrest  and  restrain  from  evil  and  ruin,  in  the 
dread  of  the  Divine  displeasure  against  sin  }  Can 
a  desire  to  do  wrong  even  exist  along  with  a  vivid 
realisation  of  His  presence  in  any  heart .''  The 
saintly  Leighton  spoke  from  experience,  and  so 
as  to  give  expression  to  the  experience  of  thou- 
sands of  the  most  excellent  of  the  earth  when  he 
said:  "One  glance  of  God,  a  touch  of  His  love, 
will  free  and  enlarge  the  heart,  so  that  it  can  deny 
all,  and  part  with  all,  and  make  an  entire  renounc- 
ing of  all,  to  follow  Him."  Now,  if  I  am  to 
defer  to  experience,  to  facts,  to  induction,  I  can- 
not disregard  this   experience,  especially  as  it  is 

246  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

just  what  reason  would  lead  me  to  expect.  The 
secularist  may  tell  me  that  he  has  no  such  experi- 
ence. Of  course  he  has  not ;  he  could  not  be  a 
secularist  if  he  had.  But  that  one  man  lacks  is  no 
evidence  that  another  man  does  not  possess ;  the 
absence  of  experience  is  not  counter-experience. 
I  may  even  be  free  to  think  that  secularist  worth 
at  its  best — and  I  have  no  wish  to  disparage  it — 
falls  greatly  short  of  saintly  excellence,  and  that 
the  want  of  the  experience  mentioned  is  precisely 
what  explains  why  it  does. 

Atheism — secularism — shuts  out,  then,  some  of 
the  most  impressive  motives  to  virtuous  conduct 
by  relieving  men  from  a  sense  of  responsibility  to 
a  Supreme  Being,  and  excluding  from  view  His 
universal  presence  and  infinite  perfection  ;  whereas 
religion  leaves  all  secular  motives  to  morality  in- 
tact, while  it  adds  to  them  spiritual  motives  of  vast 
efficacy  and  of  the  most  elevating  and  purifying 

The  alliance  of  secularism  with  utilitarianism 
has  not,  I  think,  strengthened  the  former  in  any 
way,  but  merely  narrowed  it.  Utilitarianism  is  one 
of  several  doubtful  and  disputed  theories  in  the 
philosophy  of  ethics  which  can  only  be  indepen- 
dently and  intelligently  estimated  by  specially  dis- 
ciplined students.  Ordinary  men,  secularists  in- 
cluded, must  leave  theories  as  to  the  foundation 
of  morality  to  philosophers,  or  take  them  on  trust 

Positive  Prificiples  of  Sccula^'ism.  247 

from  philosophers.  The  mass  of  secularists  can 
be  utilitarians  merely  by  electing  on  very  insuffi- 
cient grounds  to  be  led  by  Mr  J.  S.  Mill  and  Pro- 
fessor Bain  beyond  their  depth.  They  would  be 
wiser  to  keep  on  the  bank,  or  at  least  to  keep  in 
shallow  water. 

Neither  the  theist  nor  the  Christian  is  called 
upon  to  refute  utilitarianism,  because  neither 
theism  nor  Christianity  commits  its  adherents 
to  any  theory  as  to  the  foundation  of  rectitude. 
Utilitarianism  in  itself  is  neither  atheistical  nor 
unchristian.  It  is  clear  that  if  there  be  a  God 
and  a  future  life,  utilitarianism  cannot  afford  to 
omit  them  from  its  calculations.  If  there  be  a 
God,  utility  must  be  the  indication  of  His  will, 
and  it  must  be  useful  to  attend  to  His  will.  If 
there  be  a  future  life,  it  must  be  a  very  absurd 
kind  of  utilitarianism  which,  while  resting  all 
morality  on  pleasure  and  pain,  yet  overlooks  in 
its  reckonings  those  pleasures  and  pains  which  are 
far  the  greatest  of  all.  At  the  same  time,  utili- 
tarianism is,  I  hold,  a  speculation  which  no  person 
has  yet  proved,  which  has  only  been  supported  by 
reasonings  in  which  causes  and  consequences  have 
been  strangely  confounded,  which  proceeds  from 
narrow  and  erroneous  conceptions  as  to  the  consti- 
tution of  human  nature,  and  which  presents  no 
adequate  barrier  to  the  most  unworthy  views  of 
morality.      It   starts   from    the    supposition    that 

248  Aiiti-Theistic  Theoj'ies. 

pleasure  is  the  sole  end  of  life,  the  one  thing  desir- 
able ;  yet  if  such  were  the  case,  the  selfish  system, 
not  utilitarianism,  would  be  the  correct  system  of 
ethics,  and  there  would  be  no  real  morality  at  all. 
If  pleasure  be  the  one  thing  a  man  naturally 
desires,  that  pleasure  must  be  his  own,  and  he  can 
only  seek  the  pleasure  of  others  so  far  as  that  may 
be  conducive  to  his  own  and  for  the  sake  of  his 
own, — he  can  never  do  good  to  others  for  their 
sake  and  have  as  much  regard  to  the  pleasures  of 
others  as  his  own.  Of  course,  utilitarianism,  not- 
withstanding this,  inculcates  disinterestedness,  bids 
us  sacrifice  our  individual  interest  to  the  general 
interest.  But  in  the  name  of  what  does  it  bid  us 
do  so.?  Is  it  in  the  name  merely  of  interest.!*  If 
interest  as  such  is  the  chief  end  of  man,  why  should 
I  sacrifice  my  own  to  that  of  others }  If  the 
supreme  good  of  life  is  happiness,  why  am  I  not 
to  conclude  that  the  supreme  good  of  viy  life  is 
uiy  happiness  .?  Utilitarianism  has  no  satisfactory 
answer  to  these  questions.  Mr  Mill,  on  whom 
chiefly  secularists  rely  with  unreasoned  confidence, 
did  not  even  venture  to  attempt  to  answer  them, 
but  contented  himself  with  merely  teUing  us,  what 
nobody  denied,  that  utilitarianism  inculcates  dis- 
interestedness. I  must  not  embark,  however,  on 
the  uiare  magnum  of  utilitarianism. 

Enough  has  now  been  said,   perhaps,  to  show 
that  secularism  has  nothing  true  to  offer  to  any 

Positive  Principles  of  Secularism.  249 

class  of  men  which  they  may  not  find  elsewhere, 
dissociated  from  the  errors,  the  negations,  which 
characterise  this  phase  of  unbelief.  This  would 
probably  not  fail  to  be  almost  universally  seen  and 
acknowledged  if  those  who  in  the  higher  ranks  of 
life  make  profession  of  religion  would  display  a 
heartier  and  a  manlier  interest  in  those  who  are 
in  the  lower  ranks,  so  that  no  man  might  be 
tempted  to  believe  that  religion  is  one  of  the 
things  which  stand  either  in  the  way  of  his  per- 
sonal happiness  or  of  justice  to  his  class.^ 

*  See  Appendix  XXIV. 

250  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories, 



In  the  first  Lecture  of  this  course  I  stated  that 
some  authors  had  denied  that  there  were  any 
real  or  sincere  atheists,  but  that  I  did  not  see 
how  this  view  could  be  successfully  maintained. 
In  recent  times  a  very  different  view  has  found  a 
large  number  of  advocates.  It  has  been  argued 
that  religion,  so  far  from  being  a  universal,  is  not 
even  a  general  characteristic  of  man  ;  that  so  far 
from  there  being  no  atheists  in  the  world,  there 
are  numerous  tribes,  and  even  some  highly  culti- 
vated nations,  wholly  composed  of  atheists.  The 
belief  to  which  in  ancient  times  Cicero  and  Plutarch 
in  well-known  passages  gave  eloquent  expression — 
the  belief  that  wherever  men  exist  they  have  some 
form  of  religion — can  no  longer  be  taken  for  granted ; 
for  many  now  assert,  and  some  have  laboured  to 
prove,  that  there  are  peoples  who  have  neither  reli- 
gious ideas,  nor  gods,  nor  any  kind  of  worship.     I 

Nature  of  tJie  Question.  251 

shall  now  examine  this  view ;  but  before  entering 
on  its  direct  discussion,  a  few  preliminary  remarks 
seem  necessary. 

First,  then,  the  question,  Are  there  entire  tribes 
and  nations  which  have  no  religious  beliefs  or  prac- 
tices whatever  ?  is  a  question  as  to  a  matter  of  fact. 
It  ought  to  be  decided,  therefore,  solely  by  an 
appeal  to  facts.  But  it  is  very  apt  to  be  decided, 
and  has  very  often  been  decided,  by  the  theolog- 
ical or  philosophical  prepossessions  of  those  who 
have  undertaken  to  answer  it.  Men  like  Biichner, 
Pouchet,  O.  Schmidt,  show  by  the  very  tone  in 
which  they  pronounce  many  of  the  lower  tribes  of 
men  to  be  totally  devoid  of  religious  sentiments, 
that  they  deem  this  to  be  a  stroke  which  tells 
strongly  against  religion.  It  is  impossible,  I  think, 
for  an  impartial  person,  even  were  he  on  the  whole 
to  approve  of  their  conclusion,  to  read  what  they 
have  written,  and  to  mark  how  they  have  written, 
on  this  subject,  without  perceiving  that  they  have 
been  more  animated  by  dislike  of  religion  than  by 
the  love  of  truth.  On  the  other  hand,  with  many 
it  is  a  foregone  conclusion  that  religion  must  be 
universal  ;  and  their  reason  for  affirming  it  to  be 
universal  is,  not  that  the  relevant  facts  prove  this, 
but  that  the  honour  of  religion  seems  to  them  to 
require  it.  Now  on  neither  side  can  this  be  justi- 
fied. The  truth  alone  ought  to  be  sought,  and  it 
can  only  be  found  in  the  facts.     The  answer  to  the 

252  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

question,  Are  there  peoples  without  rehgion  ?  ought, 
if  legitimately  obtained,  to  be  taken  into  account 
in  deciding  whether  or  not  man  is  an  essentially 
religious  being;, but  it  is  not  legitimately  obtained 
if  deduced  from  a  foregone  conclusion  on  that  sub- 
ject. Its  place  is  among  the  premisses  of  an  argu- 
ment for  or  against  the  proposition  that  religion  is 
rooted  in  man's  very  nature,  not  among  corollaries 
from  it. 

There  need  not,  perhaps,  be  great  anxiety  on 
either  side  to  arrive  at  a  particular  answer.  Were 
it  made  out  that  there  are  some  degraded  tribes 
which  have  no  conception  of  the  supernatural, 
little,  it  seems  to  me,  would  be  proved  either  for  or 
against  religion.  It  would  only  show  that  circum- 
stances might  be  so  unfavourable,  and  the  minds 
of  men  so  inactive,  dark,  and  debased,  that  the 
religious  principles  or  tendencies  of  human  nature 
could  not  manifest  themselves.  Of  course,  if  it 
were  adequately  proved  that  atheism  is  so  very 
widely  prevalent  as  some  maintain, — if  it  were 
established,  in  other  words,  that  not  only  a  great 
number  of  barbarous  and  semi-barbarous  peoples 
are  devoid  of  all  religion,  but  that  the  many  mill- 
ions of  Buddhists  in  China  and  Japan  are  strictly 
and  properly  atheists, — atheism  would  have  con- 
siderable reason  for  exultation.  For,  though  even 
that  would  certainly  not  prove  atheism  true  or  the- 
ism false,  it  would  convince  prejudiced  minds  that 

Preliminary  Cautions.  253 

human  nature  was  not  constitutionally  framed  for 
religion.  It  would  very  much  weaken,  if  it  did  not 
destroy,  the  weighty  argument  for  religion  which  the 
religious  history  of  man  presents.  Still  we  have 
manifestly  no  right  to  reject  the  view  that  atheism 
is  thus  widely  spread,  merely  because  we  dislike 
some  of  the  inferences  which  would  follow  from  it. 
We  are  bound  to  ask,  Is  it  thus  widely  spread  } — 
a  question  which  can  only  be  answered  by  an  appeal 
to  facts  ;  and  facts  ought  always  to  be  studied  with 
minds  as  free  as  possible  from  preconceptions. 

Not  a  few  of  the  writers  who  have  recently  dis- 
cussed the  subject  have  been  intent  on  showing 
that  the  facts  conform  to  the  Darwinian  or  some 
other  theory  of  development.  They  have  adapted 
the  facts  to  their  theory,  instead  of  testing  their 
theory  by  the  facts.  This  is,  of  course,  an  unscien- 
tific and  erroneous  mode  of  procedure.  And,  it 
may  be  added,  it  is  one  to  which  the  development 
theory  does  not  logically  require  us  to  have  re- 
course. It  is  as  consistent  with  even  the  Darwinian 
form  of  the  development  theory  that  the  origin  of 
religion  should  be  at  any  one  point  as  at  any  other. 
It  may  have  been  antecedent  to  the  origin  of  man, 
contemporaneous  with  it,  or  subsequent  to  it.^ 

I  remark,  in  the  second  place,  that  great  care  and 
caution  require  to  be  exercised  before  we  draw  a 
negative  conclusion  in  a  matter  of  the  kind  under 
^  See  Appendix  XXV. 

254  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

consideration.  The  question  belongs  to  one  of  the 
least  advanced  of  sciences — the  science  of  compar- 
ative psychology.  The  religious  characteristics  of 
men  are  mental  peculiarities  which  can  only  be 
successfully  studied  by  those  who  are  accustomed 
to  trace  and  analyse  mental  processes.  But  how 
few  of  those  who  travel  among  savage  peoples  have 
received  any  instruction  in  mental  science,  and 
how  little  mental  science  is  there  of  a  kind  calcu- 
lated to  serve  as  a  guide  to  the  correct  observation 
and  interpretation  of  intellectual,  moral,  and  reli- 
gious phenomena  !  The  men  who  write  those  books 
of  travels  in  which  distant  lands  and  savage  peoples 
are  described,  are  often  more  than  ordinarily  con- 
versant with  zoology,  botany,  and  other  physical 
sciences,  and  they  can  describe  accurately  plants, 
animals,  geological  and  meteorological  facts,  the 
bodily  peculiarities  of  human  beings,  weapons, 
canoes,  &c.,  but  they  very  seldom  give  much  trust- 
worthy information  as  to  the  mental  operations  of 
the  aborigines  with  whom  they  have  come  into 
contact.  Even  such  eminent  observers  of  out- 
ward nature  as  Mr  Wallace  and  Mr  Bates,  for 
example,  were  obviously  able  to  make  out  ex- 
tremely little  as  to  the  inner  life  of  the  Amazon- 
ian tribes.  When  a  traveller  tells  us  that  he  found 
among  the  natives  of  some  barbarous  land  no 
traces  of  religious  belief,  we  must  consider  whether 
or  not  he  had  the  means  and  opportunities  required 

Prelimmary  Cautions,  255 

to  arrive  at  the  truth  in  the  matter ;  whether  or 
not  he  was  sufficiently  master  of  the  tribal  lan- 
guage to  converse  easily  in  it ;  whether  or  not  he 
had  so  thoroughly  gained  the  confidence  of  those 
whose  religious  beliefs  he  sought  to  ascertain  that 
they  were  quite  open  and  unreserved  in  communi- 
cating to  him  their  most  secret  and  most  sacred 
thoughts  and  feelings ;  whether  or  not  his  inquiries 
were  of  a  really  intelligent  kind  ;  how  far  these 
inquiries  extended ;  how  far  the  impression  which 
he  derived  from  his  intercourse  with  some  indi- 
viduals might  have  been  modified  if  he  had  had 
more  intercourse  with  other  individuals  of  the 
same  community  ;  whether  he  knew  much,  little, 
or  nothing  of  their  songs  and  traditions,  &c.  A 
foreigner  is  very  rarely  a  competent  and  impartial 
judge.  It  is  so  even  with  respect  to  civilised  peo- 
ples, and  must  be  still  more  so  with  respect  to 
barbarous  peoples.  After  years  of  residence  in 
England,  a  Frenchman's  book  on  English  life  is 
apt  to  be  on  many  points  amusingly  absurd. 
What  must,  then,  the  liabilities  to  error  be  in  the 
case  of  countries  rarely  or  never  visited  before,  and 
which  the  traveller  merely  hurries  through,  know- 
ing imperfectly  or  not  at  all  the  languages  spoken.^ 
In  savage  countries  the  stranger  is  generally  an 
object  of  dislike,  or  at  least  of  distrust.  Disinter- 
ested curiosity  is  what  an  uncivilised  man  cannot 
understand,  and  to  question  him  is  often  of  itself 

2 $6  Anti-Theistic  Theo7'ies. 

sufficient  to  render  him  suspicious  and  evasive. 
He  is,  in  general,  specially  averse  to  being  ques- 
tioned about  his  religious  beliefs.  It  doubtless 
seems  to  him  a  sort  of  profanation  to  converse 
regarding  them  with  one  whom  he  perceives  to 
despise  them,  and  a  humiliation  to  give  expression 
to  his  vague  feelings  and  incoherent  convictions  on 
such  matters  before  one  whom  he  cannot  but  feel 
to  be  intellectually  above  him.  If  the  questioner 
be  a  missionary  seeking  to  propagate  the  prin- 
ciples of  his  own  faith,  of  course  the  barbarian  is 
all  the  more  likely  to  take  refuge  in  silence  and 
feis^ned  iG|;norance. 

In  confirmation  of  these  remarks,  I  may  quote 
the  following  sentences  from  the  valuable  work  of 
Mr  Tylor  on  '  Primitive  Culture.'  He  says  :  "  Even 
with  much  time,  and  care,  and  knowledge  of  lan- 
guage, it  is  not  always  easy  to  elicit  from  savages 
the  details  of  their  theology.  They  try  to  hide 
from  the  prying  and  contemptuous  foreigner  their 
worship  of  gods  who  seem  to  shrink,  like  their 
worshippers,  before  the  white  man  and  his  mightier 
Deity.  Mr  Sproat's  experience  in  Vancouver's 
Island  is  an  apt  example  of  this  state  of  things. 
He  says :  *  I  was  two  years  among  the  Ahts,  with 
my  mind  constantly  directed  towards  the  subject 
of  their  religious  beliefs,  before  I  could  discover 
that  they  possessed  any  ideas  as  to  an  overruling 
power  or  a  future  state  of  existence.     The  traders 

Prcliviinary  Cautious.  257 

on  the  coast,  and  other  persons  well  acquainted 
with  the  people,  told  me  that  they  had  no  such 
ideas,  and  this  opinion  was  confirmed  by  conversa- 
tion with  many  of  the  less  intelligent  savages  ;  but 
at  last  I  succeeded  in  getting  a  satisfactory  clue.' 
It  then  appeared  that  the  Ahts  had  all  the  time 
been  hiding  a  whole  characteristic  system  of  re- 
ligious doctrines  as  to  souls  and  their  migrations, 
the  spirits  who  do  good  and  ill  to  men,  and  the 
great  gods  above  all.  Thus,  even  where  no  posi- 
tive proof  of  religious  ideas  among  any  particular 
tribe  has  reached  us,  we  should  distrust  its  denial 
by  observers  whose  acquaintance  with  the  tribe  in 
question  has  not  been  intimate  as  well  as  kindly." 

I  would  remark,  in  the  third  place,  that  we  must 
beware  of  denying  that  a  rude  and  feebly  devel- 
oped religion  is  religion  at  all.  We  must  not  ex- 
pect too  much.  Many  who  have  affirmed  that  such 
and  such  peoples  were  destitute  of  religion  have 
done  so  because  these  peoples  did  not  believe  in 
one  supreme  God,  or  had  no  proper  conception  of  a 
Creator  or  Moral  Governor.  They  have  identified 
religion  with  theism,  and  represented  as  destitute 
of  religion  tribes  whose  doctrines  fell  so  far  short 
of  their  own  that  they  thought  them  unworthy  to 
be  designated  religious.  As  the  early  Christians 
were  called  atheists  because  they  disowned  the 
gods  of  pagan  Rome,  so  several  heathen  tribes 
have  been  called  atheists  by  those  who  could  find 


258  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

among  them  no  traces  of  belief  in  the  one  true 
God  ;  or  if  not  called  atheists  they  have  been  said 
to  have  no  religion  but  merely  superstitions.  Tes- 
timony of  this  kind,  however,  is  quite  worthless 
when  the  point  to  be  decided  is  whether  religion  is 
universal  or  not.  Superstition,  as  understood  by 
the  writers  referred  to,  just  means  false  religion, 
and  the  presence  of  false  religion  is  as  good  evi- 
dence of  the  existence  of  religion  as  the  presence 
of  true  religion.  The  distinction  between  religion 
and  superstition  is  a  very  important  one  in  its 
proper  place,  but  it  has  no  relevancy  here,  and  the 
employment  of  it  in  this  connection  is  a  sure  sign 
of  confusion  of  thought.  We  have  no  right  to 
identify  religion  with  particular  phases  of  religion. 
We  have  no  right  to  pronounce  a  low  or  bad 
religion  no  religion  at  all.  We  have  no  right  to 
include  in  our  definition  of  religion  the  belief  in 
one  Supreme  Being,  in  the  creation  of  the  world, 
in  the  immortality  of  the  soul,  or  a  regulated  out- 
ward worship,  or  a  priesthood,  &c.  We  are  in- 
quiring whether  or  not  religion  in  some  form  is 
everywhere  to  be  discovered  ;  and  in  order  to  arrive 
at  a  correct  answer,  we  must  not  ignore  or  discard 
any  form  of  it,  however  humble  or  ignoble,  how- 
ever undeveloped  or  degenerate. 

We  must  be  content  with  a  minimum  definition, 
— with  the  definition  which  comprehends  all  pheno- 
mena admitted  to  be  religious.     Perhaps  if  we  say 

Preliminary  Cautions.  259 

that  religion  is  man's  belief  in  a  being  or  beings 
mightier  than  himself,  and  inaccessible  to  his 
senses,  but  not  indifferent  to  his  sentiments  and 
actions,  with  the  feelings  and  practices  which  flow 
from  such  belief,  we  have  a  definition  of  the  kind 
required  —  one  excluding  nothing  which  can  be 
called  religion,  and  including  nothing  which  is  only 
partially  present  in  religion.  It  is  in  this  its  widest 
sense  that  we  have  to  understand  religion  when  we 
discuss  whether  or  not  there  are  peoples  destitute 
of  religion. 

Of  the  recent  writers  who  have  undertaken  to 
show  that  there  are  peoples  wholly  without  religi- 
ous ideas,  feelings,  or  practices,  Sir  John  Lubbock 
is,  so  far  as  I  am  aware,  entitled  to  the  credit  of 
having  bestowed  most  care  on  the  argument.  He 
has  certainly  written  with  more  knowledge  and  in 
a  more  scientific  spirit  than  Biichner,  Pouchet,  O. 
Schmidt,  or  Moritz  Wagner.  He  has  brought  to- 
gether a  much  larger  number  of  apparent  facts 
than  any  one  else  on  the  same  side  has  done.  He 
has  presented  them  in  a  manner  to  which,  so  far 
as  tone  and  temper  are  concerned,  no  objection 
can  be  fairly  taken.  If  he  err,  as  I  think  he  does, 
it  is  only  his  science  which  is  at  fault.  I  shall 
follow,  therefore,  his  statement  of  the  argument 
against  the  universality  of  religion,  as  presented 
in  the  last  edition  of  his  '  Prehistoric  Times,'  and 
examine    it    paragraph    by   paragraph,   as    there 

26o  Anti-Thcistic  Theories. 

seems  to  be  no   other  way  of  satisfactorily  deal- 
ing with  it. 

Sir  John  Lubbock  writes,  then,  thus  :  ''  Accord- 
ing to  Spix  and  Martins,  Bates,  and  Wallace,  some 
of  the  Brazilian  Indians  were  entirely  without  re- 
licrion.      Burmeister  confirms  this  statement,  and 
in  the  list  of  the  principal  tribes  of  the  valley  of 
the  Amazons,  published  by  the  Hakluyt  Society, 
the  Chuncos  are  stated  '  to  have  no  religion  what- 
ever,' and  we  are  told  that  the  Curetus  '  have  no 
idea   of   a    Supreme    Being.'      The    Tupinambas 
of  Brazil  had  no  religion.     The  South  American 
Indians  of  the  Gran  Chaco  are  said  by  the  mis- 
sionaries to  have  '  no  religious  or  idolatrous  belief 
or  worship  whatever ;  neither  do  they  possess  any 
idea  of  a  God,  or  of  a  Supreme  Being.    They  make 
no  distinction  between  right  and  wrong,  and  have 
therefore  neither  fear  nor  hope  of  any  present  or 
future  punishment  or  reward,  nor  any  mysterious 
terror   of  some    supernatural    power,  whom    they 
might   seek  to   assuage  by  sacrifices  or  supersti- 
tious rites.'    Bates  tells  us  '  that  some  of  the  Indian 
tribes  on  the  Upper  Amazons  have  no  idea  of  a 
Supreme  Being,  and  consequently  have  no  word 
to  express  it  in  their  own  languages.'     Azara  also 
makes  the  same  statement  as  regards  many  of  the 
South  American  tribes  visited  by  him." 

These  are  Sir  John   Lubbock's  instances  from 
South  American  tribes.     But  I  find  that  they  are 

Sir  y.  Lubbock's  Instances  Examined.       261 

all  either  erroneous  or  insufficiently  established. 
Gerland  (*  Anthropologische  Beitrage,'  i.  283)  has 
correctly  pointed  out  that  the  passage  of  Spix  and 
Martius  to  which  Sir  J.  Lubbock  refers,  instead  of 
saying  that  the  Brazilian  Indians  were  entirely 
without  religion,  tells  us  that,  although  engrossed 
in  the  present,  they  had  a  certain  reverence  for  the 
moon  and  particular  stars,  believed  in  a  Principle 
of  Evil,  had  priests  who  professed  to  have  inter- 
course with  demons,  and  highly  honoured  certain 
animals  which  they  supposed  to  be  messengers 
from  the  dead.  This  is  a  very  different  story  in- 
deed. I  do  not  doubt  that,  "in  the  list  of  the 
principal  tribes  of  the  valley  of  the  Amazons, 
published  by  the  Hakluyt  Society,  the  Chuncos 
are  stated  '  to  have  no  religion  whatever,'  and  we 
are  told  that  the  Curetus  have  no  idea  of  a  Su- 
preme Being  ; '  "  but  what  proof  is  there  that  these 
statements  are  not  unwarranted  }  It  v/ill  never  do 
to  believe  such  statements — sweeping  negatives — 
merely  because  they  happen  to  be  printed.  The 
assertion  that  the  Tupinambas  of  Brazil  had  no 
religion  is  not  to  be  received.  It  is  unsupported 
by  any  positive  evidence  ;  contradicted  by  the 
testimony  of  Stade,  for  example,  who  was  nine 
months  a  prisoner  among  them  ;  and  inconsist- 
ent with  the  fact  that  several  later  writers  have 
described  the  rehgion  of  the  Tupi  race.  Tupan, 
the  thunder-god,  was  the  chief  deity.      The  mis- 

262  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

sionaries  cited  by  Lubbock  have  obviously  painted 
the  Indians  of  the  Gran  Chaco  in  too  sombre 
colours.  Instead  of  making  no  distinction  be- 
tween right  and  wrong,  the  Indians  of  the  Gran 
Chaco  appear  to  be  among  the  best  of  the 
American  tribes.  For  example,  they  do  not  tor- 
ture the  prisoners  whom  they  take  in  war,  and 
treat  kindly  the  captive  women  and  children. 
About  their  mental  life  little  is  known,  however, 
as  they  are  irreconcilably  hostile  to  their  civilised 
neighbours,  have  no  villages,  and  live  very  much 
on  horseback.  As  to  the  assertion  of  Mr  Bates,  it 
rests  on  too  narrow  a  conception  of  what  religion 
is,  which,  as  I  have  already  said,  must  not  be  iden- 
tified with  belief  in  one  Supreme  Being,  or  in  a 
Creator  properly  so  called.  Further,  it  greatly 
needs  confirmation,  being  contrary  to  the  facts 
and  testimonies  collected  by  J.  G.  Miiller  and  by 
Waitz.  It  is  inexplicable  that  Sir  John  Lubbock 
should  have  ignored  as  he  does  researches  so  well 
known  and  highly  appreciated  by  students  of  the 
natural  history  of  man.  Then  we  should  not  only 
have  been  told  that  Don  Felix  de  Azara  denies 
religion  to  many  of  the  American  tribes  visited  by 
him,  but  also  that  he  describes  the  religious  beHefs 
and  practices  of  the  very  tribes  which  he  denies 
to  have  religion.  This  must  strike  every  one  who 
reads  his  work ;  and  Valckenaer,  D'Orbigny,  and 
Tylor  have  called  attention  to  it.     His  statement 

Sir  J.  Lubbock's  histanccs  Examined.      263 

that  the  tribes  he  visited  had  no  rehgion  needs  no 
other  contradiction  than  his  own.  I  am  glad  to 
perceive  that  Lubbock  does  not  include,  as  Locke 
and  various  writers  have  done,  the  Caribs  among 
peoples  without  a  religion,  for  they  are  known  to 
have  worshipped  a  god  of  the  moon,  of  the  sun,  of 
the  wind,  of  the  sea,  and  a  number  of  evil  spirits, 
with  Mabocha  as  their  chief.  But  I  think  he 
might  have  told  us  that  Humboldt,  whose  travels 
in  South  America  were  so  extensive,  whose  explo- 
rations were  so  varied,  scientific,  and  successful, 
and  who  was  certainly  uninfluenced  by  traditional 
theological  beliefs,  found  no  tribes  and  peoples 
without  a  religion ;  and  that  Prince  Max  von 
Neuwied,  in  all  his  many  and  wide  wanderings 
in  Brazil,  tells  us  that  he  had  found  no  tribes  of 
which  the  members  did  not  give  manifest  signs 
of  religious  feelings.^ 

Sir  J.  Lubbock  thus  proceeds :  "  Father  Bae- 
gert,  who  lived  as  a  missionary  among  the  Indians 
of  California  for  seventeen  years,  affirms  that 
*  idols,  temples,  religious  worship  or  ceremonies, 
were  unknown  to  them,  and  that  they  neither 
believed  in  the  true  and  only  God,  nor  adored 
false  deities  ; '  and  M.  de  Perouse  also  says  that 
'  they  had  no  knowledge  of  a  God  or  of  a  future 
state.'  Golden,  who  had  ample  means  of  judging, 
assures  us  that  the   celebrated  '  five   nations '  of 

^  See  Appendix  XXVI. 

264  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

Canada  'had  no  public  worship  nor  any  word  for 
God;'  and  Hearne,  who  lived  amongst  the  North 
American  Indians  for  years,  and  was  perfectly 
acquainted  with  their  habits  and  language,  says 
the  same  of  some  tribes  on  Hudson's  Bay." 

Now  to  the  assertion  of  Father  Baegert  we  may 
oppose  a  most  interesting  account  of  the  faith  of 
the  Californians  left  by  Father  Boscana,  one  of 
the  earliest  missionaries  to  Upper  California.  Mr 
Bancroft,  whose  researches  have  been  most  labo- 
rious and  extensive,  informs  us  that  "  the  Califor- 
nian  tribes,  taken  as  a  whole,  are  pretty  uniform 
in  the  main  features  of  their  theogonic  beliefs. 
They  seem,  without  exception,  to  have  had  a 
hazy  conception  of  a  lofty,  almost  supreme  being ; 
for  the  most  part  referred  to  as  a  Great  Man,  the 
Old  Man  Above,  the  One  Above ;  attributing  to 
him,  however,  as  is  usual  in  such  cases,  nothing 
but  the  vaguest  and  most  negative  functions  and 
qualities.  The  real  practical  power  that  most 
interested  them,  who  had  most  to  do  with  them 
and  they  with  him,  was  a  demon,  or  body  of 
demons,  of  a  tolerably  pronounced  character" 
(iii.  158).  The  view  adopted  by  Sir  J.  Lubbock 
reg-arding-  the  Californians  is  irreconcilable  also 
with  the  series  of  testimonies  adduced  by  Waitz. 
Then  the  negative  reports  of  Colden  (i/SS)  ^^d 
of  Hearne  (1769-1772)  are  not  to  be  allowed  to 
outweigh  the  contrary  reports  of  numerous  other 

Sh'  y.  Lubbock's  Instances  Examined.       265 

witnesses  no  less  credible.  Further,  we  are  not 
justified  in  concluding  that  a  people  has  no  reli- 
gion because  it  has  "  no  public  worship  nor  any 
word  for  God."  It  is  clearly  proved  that  the 
Canadian  Indians  believed  in  supernatural  beings, 
and,  in  fact,  in  legions  of  spirits.  The  sorcery 
prevalent  among  them  may  be  viewed  as  a  per- 
verted form  of  worship.  The  Koniagas  even 
believe  in  a  chief  deity,  the  Thlinkets  in  a  creator 
of  all  beings  and  things,  the  Haidahs  suppose  the 
great  solar  spirit  to  be  the  Creator  and  Supreme 
Ruler,  &c.  &c.  Belief  in  a  former  of  the  universe 
is,  in  fact,  the  rule  among  the  North  American 
Indians.  The  exceptions  are  few  and  doubtful.^ 
Sir  J.  Lubbock,  passing  from  North  America  to 
Polynesia  and  Australasia,  thus  continues:  "In 
the  '  Voyage  de  I'Astrolabe '  it  is  stated  that  the 
natives  of  the  Samoan  and  Solomon  Islands  in 
the  Pacific  had  no  religion  ;  and  in  the  *  Voyage  of 
the  Novara'  the  same  is  said  of  the  Caroline 
Islanders.  The  Samoans  '  have  neither  moraes, 
nor  temples,  nor  altars,  nor  ofi"erings,  and  con- 
sequently none  of  the  sanguinary  rites  observed 
at  the  other  groups.  In  consequence  of  this,  the 
Samoans  were  considered  an  impious  race;  and 
their  impiety  became  proverbial  with  the  people 
of  Rarotonga,  for,  when  upbraiding  a  person  who 
neglected  the  worship  of  the  gods,  they  would  call 
^  See  Appendix  XXVII. 

266  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

him  'a  godless  Samoan.'  On  Damood  Island, 
between  Australia  and  New  Guinea,  Jukes  could 
find  no  'traces  of  any  religious  belief  or  obser- 
vance.' Duradawan,  a  sepoy,  who  lived  some 
time  with  the  Andaman  Islanders,  maintained 
that  they  had  no  religion,  and  Dr  Mouatt  believes 
his  statements  to  be  correct.  Some  of  the  Aus- 
trahan  tribes,  also,  are  said  to  have  no  religion. 
In  the  Pellew  Islands  Wilson  found  no  religious 
buildings,  nor  any  sign  of  religion.  Mr  Wallace, 
who  had  excellent  opportunities  for  judging,  and 
whose  merits  as  an  observer  no  one  can  question, 
tells  us  that,  among  the  people  of  Wanumbai,  in 
the  Aru  Islands,  he  could  find  no  trace  of  a  reli- 
gion ;  adding,  however,  that  he  was  but  a  short 
time  among  them." 

It  is  very  strange  that  Sir  John  should  continue 
through  three  editions  of  his  work  to  represent  the 
Samoan  Islanders  as  destitute  of  religious  beliefs. 
Williams,  in  the  passage  quoted,  says  nothing  of 
the  kind,  but,  what  is  very  different  indeed,  that 
they  were  considered  impious  and  called  godless 
by  their  neighbours,  because  they  did  not  worship 
in  the  same  manner  as  they  did.  They  were 
called  "godless  "  by  the  people  of  Rarotonga,  just 
as  the  early  Christians  were  called  godless  by  the 
pagan  Romans.  Williams  merely  cites  the  Raro- 
tongan  proverb,  but  Sir  John  asks  us  to  endorse 
it.     That  is  impossible,  especially  since  the  Rev. 

Si7'  y.  Lubbock's  Instances  Examined.       267 

George  Turner  has  given  us,  in  his  'Nineteen 
Years  in  Polynesia'  (1861),  a  valuable  and  elabo- 
rate account  of  the  Samoan  religion.  That  the 
natives  of  the  Samoan  Islands  should  ever  have 
been  stated  to  have  no  religion,  shows  only  how 
little  credit  ought  to  be  attached  to  general  state- 
ments of  the  kind,  when  not  founded  on  close  and 
careful  examination.  The  treachery  and  ferocity 
of  the  Solomon  Islanders  have  prevented  Euro- 
peans acquiring  much  acquaintance  with  their 
characters,  but  that  they  are  not  without  religious 
beliefs  is  proved  by  their  having  idols,  sometimes 
ten  or  more  feet  high,  to  which  they  make  offer- 
ings of  food.  Gerland,  one  of  the  leading  ethnol- 
ogists of  Germany,  has  shown  that  the  inhabi- 
tants of  the  Caroline  Islands  are  not  destitute 
of  religious  conceptions.  Jukes  was  but  a  short 
time  in  Damood  Island,  one  of  the  Torres  Islands, 
and  Meinicke  has  described  the  religious  beliefs 
prevalent  in  these  islands.  That  ''Duradawan,  a 
sepoy,  who  lived  some  time  with  the  Andaman 
Islanders,  maintained  that  they  had  no  religion," 
by  no  means  proves  that  they  have  none.  A  far 
more  intelligent  man.  Father  Mersenne,  so  well 
known  as  the  friend  of  Descartes,  spent  most  of 
his  life  in  Paris,  and  yet  affirmed  that  there  were 
sixty  thousand  atheists  in  that  city.  Dr  Mouatt 
had  no  intimate  or  lengthened  intercourse  with 
the  Andaman    Islanders.      Sir   J.    Lubbock    does 

268  Antl-Thcistic  Theories. 

injustice  to  Captain  Wilson,  who  believed  himself 
to  have  ascertained  that  the  Pellew  Islanders  had 
some  notions  of  a  religion,  and  certainly  believed 
in  a  future  life.  It  is  improbable  that  the  Wa- 
numbai  are  without  religion,  since  it  appears  from 
the  testimonies  of  Kolff,  of  Wallace  himself,  &c., 
that  the  other  Aru  Islanders  are  not.  Gabelentz, 
in  his  work  on  the  '  Melanesian  Languages,'  has 
shown  that  words  for  God,  Spirit,  &c.,  are  very 
widely  diffused  over  the  Australasian  and  Poly- 
nesian areas.  Our  author  perhaps  deserves  com- 
mendation for  not  having  spoken  more  copiously 
and  confidently  about  the  Australian  tribes.  Most 
writers  who  maintain  that  the  atheism  of  igno- 
rance is  man's  original  condition,  lay  great  em- 
phasis on  the  alleged  absence  of  religion  among 
the  natives  of  Australia.  But  in  doing  so  they 
rest  on  what  is  only  alleged  and  not  real.  In 
proof,  I  may  quote  from  Mr  Tylor,  who  is  ad- 
mitted to  be  second  to  no  one  in  this  country  as 
an  ethnologist.  He  says :  "  It  is  not  unusual  for 
the  very  writer  who  declares  in  general  terms  the 
absence  of  religious  phenomena  among  some  sav- 
age people,  himself  to  give  evidence  that  shows 
his  expressions  to  be  misleading.  Thus  Dr  Lang 
not  only  declares  that  the  aborigines  of  Australia 
have  no  idea  of  a  supreme  divinity,  creator,  and 
judge — no  object  of  worship,  no  idol,  temple,  or 
sacrifice,  but  that,   'in   short,   they  have  nothing 

Sir  y.  Lubbock's  histaiiccs  Examined.       269 

whatever  of  the  character  of  religion,  or  of  reli- 
gious observance,  to  distinguish  them  from  the 
beasts  that  perish/  More  than  one  writer  has 
since  made  use  of  this  telling  statement,  but  with- 
out referring  to  certain  details  which  occur  in  the 
very  same  book.  P'rom  these  it  appears  that  a 
disease  like  smallpox,  which  sometimes  attacks 
the  natives,  is  ascribed  by  them  '  to  the  influence 
of  Budyah,  an  evil  spirit  who  delights  in  mis- 
chief ; '  that  when  the  natives  rob  a  wild  bees' 
hive,  they  generally  leave  a  little  of  the  honey  for 
Buddai ;  that  at  certain  biennial  gatherings  of  the 
Queensland  tribes,  young  girls  are  slain  in  sac- 
rifice to  propitiate  some  evil  divinity  ;  and  that, 
lastly,  according  to  the  evidence  of  the  Rev.  W. 
Ridley,  'whenever  he  has  conversed  with  the 
aborigines,  he  found  them  to  have  definite  tradi- 
tions concerning  supernatural  beings,  —  Baiame, 
whose  voice  they  hear  in  thunder  ;  Turramullan, 
the  chief  of  demons,  who  is  the  author  of  disease, 
mischief,  and  wisdom,  and  appears  in  the  form  of 
a  serpent  at  their  great  assemblies,'  &c.  By  the 
concurring  testimony  of  a  crowd  of  observers,  it  is 
known  that  the  natives  of  Australia  were  at  their 
discovery,  and  have  since  remained,  a  race  with 
minds  saturated  with  the  most  vivid  belief  in 
souls,  demons,  and  deities."^ 

Sir  John  Lubbock  next  seeks  proofs  of  his  thesis 

^  See  Appendix  XXVIII. 

2/0  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

in  India.  "  The  Yenadies  and  the  Villees,  accord- 
ing to  Dr  Short,  are  entirely  without  any  behef  in 
a  future  state ;  and  again,  Hooker  tells  us  that  the 
Lepchas  of  Northern  India  have  no  religion." 

Now  the  former  of  these  statements,  even  if  true, 
is  not  relevant.  Belief  in  a  future  state  is  not  to 
be  identified  with  religion.  The  ancient  Hebrews 
have  often  been  accused  of  ignorance  of  a  future 
life,  but  no  one  has  ever  said  that  they  were 
without  any  religion.  Then,  the  account  of  Dr 
Hooker's  testimony  regarding  the  Lepchas  is  most 
inadequate  and  misleading.  Here  are  Dr  Hooker's 
words  from  his  Himalayan  Journals :  "  The  Lep- 
chas profess  no  religion,  though  acknowledging 
the  existence  of  good  and  bad  spirits.  To  the 
good  they  pay  no  heed.  '  Why  should  we  } '  they 
say :  '  the  good  spirits  do  us  no  harm ;  the  evil 
spirits,  who  dwell  in  every  rock,  grove,  and  moun- 
tain, are  constantly  at  mischief,  and  to  them  we 
must  pray,  for  they  hurt  us.'  Every  tribe  has  a 
priest-doctor ;  he  neither  knows  nor  attempts  to 
practise  the  healing  art,  but  he  is  a  pure  exorcist, 
all  bodily  ailments  being  deemed  the  operation  of 
devils,  who  are  cast  out  by  prayers  and  invocations. 
Still  they  acknowledge  the  Lamas  to  be  very  holy 
men,  and  were  the  latter  only  moderately  active, 
they  would  soon  convert  all  the  Lepchas "  (i. 
135).  It  was  absurd  and  self-contradictory  in  Dr 
Hooker  to  begin  these  lines  with  the  words,  "  The 

Sir  y.  Lubbock's  Instances  Examhicd.      271 

Lepchas  profess  no  religion."  These  words  should 
clearly  not  have  been  there,  and  Sir  J.  Lubbock 
would  then  not  have  been  able  to  improve  them 
into  "  the  Lepchas  of  Northern  India  have  no  re- 
ligion." It  is  clear  from  Hooker's  own  words  that 
such  is  very  far  from  being  the  case.  Substantially 
his  account  is  in  perfect  agreement  with  that  con- 
tained in  Colonel  Dalton's  'Descriptive  Ethnol- 
ogy of  Bengal,  compiled  from  Official  Documents.' 
Colonel  Dalton,  chiefly  on  the  authority  of  Dr  A. 
Campbell  (see  Note  in  the  Journal  of  the  Asiatic 
Society,  Bengal,  1840),  informs  us  that  the  Lepchas 
are  mostly  Buddhists,  and  have  priests,  who  are 
educated  partly  at  home  and  partly  in  the  great 
monasteries  of  Thibet.  All  testimony  regarding 
the  Lepchas  agrees  in  representing  them  as  a 
physically  handsome,  constitutionally  timid  and 
peaceable,  morally  affectionate,  and  religiously 
susceptible  people. 

I  pass  on  to  what  Sir  John  has  to  say  of  Africa, 
so  far  as  the  subject  in  hand  is  concerned.  "  Cap- 
tain Grant  could  find  '  no  distinct  form  of  religion ' 
in  some  of  the  comparatively  civilised  tribes  visit- 
ed by  him.  According  to  Burchell,  the  Bachapins 
(Caffres)  had  no  form  of  worship  or  religion.  They 
thought  *  that  everything  made  itself,  and  that  trees 
and  herbs  grew  by  their  own  will.'  They  had  no 
belief  in  a  good  deit)^  but  some  vague  idea  of  an 
evil  being.     Indeed  the  first  idea  of  God  is  almost 

272  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theo7'ies. 

always  as  an  evil  spirit.  Speaking  of  the  Foulahs 
of  Wassoulo,  in  Central  Africa,  Caillie  states :  *  I 
tried  to  discover  whether  they  had  any  religion  of 
their  own — whether  they  worshipped  fetishes,  or  the 
sun,  moon,  or  stars — but  I  could  never  perceive  any 
religious  ceremony  among  them.'  Again,  he  says 
of  the  Bambaras,  that,  'like  the  people  of  Was- 
soulo, they  have  no  religion,  —  adding,  however, 
that  they  have  great  faith  in  charms.  Burton  also 
states  that  some  of  the  tribes  in  the  lake  districts  of 
Central  Africa  '  admit  neither  God,  nor  angel,  nor 
devil.'  Speaking  of  Hottentots,  Le  Vaillant  says  : 
'  Je  n'y  ai  vu  aucune  trace  de  religion,  rien  qui  ap- 
proche  meme  de  I'idee  d'un  etre  vengeur  et  remu- 
nerateur.  J'ai  vecu  assez  longtemps  avec  eux,  chez 
eux  au  sein  de  leurs  deserts  paisibles;  j'ai  fait, 
avec  ces  braves  humains,  des  voyages  dans  des 
regions  fort  eloignees  ;  nulle  part  je  n'ai  rencon- 
tre rien  qui  ressemble  a  la  religion.'  Livingstone 
mentions  that  on  one  occasion,  after  talking  to  a 
Bushman  for  some  time,  as  he  supposed,  about  the 
Deity,  he  found  that  the  savage  thought  that  he 
was  speaking  about  Sekomi,  the  principal  chief  of 
the  district." 

This  passage  is  as  incorrect  as  those  which  pre- 
cede it.  Captain  Grant,  in  his  walk  across  Africa, 
could  not  be  expected  to  acquire  an  intimate  know- 
ledge of  the  tribes  he  visited,  and  his  not  finding  a 
''distinct  form  of  religion"  among  some  of  these 

Sir  J.  Lubbock's  Instances  Examined.      273 

tribes  can  be  no  proof  of  their  not  possessing  even 
the  rudiments  of  religion.  The  lower  forms  of 
religion  are  occasionally  very  indistinct.  What 
Biirchell  affirms  of  the  want  of  religion  in  a  partic- 
ular Caffre  tribe,  is  more  than  counterbalanced  by 
the  fact  that  the  Cafifre  tribes  in  general  are  well 
known  to  have  religious  beliefs  and  rites ;  while, 
even  according  to  the  account  of  Burchell,  the  tribe 
mentioned  had  a  vague  idea  of  an  evil  being.  The 
Foulahs  are  mostly  Mohammedans,  and  what  Cail- 
lie  says  about  the  absence  of  religion  among  them 
can  only  be  true  of  individuals  over  a  limited  area, 
and  in  exceptionally  unfavourable  circumstances. 
The  warmest  of  Mr  Burton's  friends  will  hardly 
include  among  his  merits  caution  and  moderation 
either  of  judgment  or  statement.  Le  Vaillant's 
estimate  of  the  Hottentots  is  inconsistent  with 
the  testimonies  of  many  other  travellers.  The 
story  about  Livingstone  and  the  Bushman  prob- 
ably illustrates  rnerely  the  difficulty  of  conver- 
sational intercourse  between  a  Scotchman  and  a 
Bushman.  It  should  at  least  have  been  remem- 
bered that  Livingstone  has  written  in  regard  to  the 
peoples  of  South  Africa,  "There  is  no  need  for 
beginning  to  tell  even  the  most  degraded  of  these 
people  of  the  existence  of  a  God,  or  of  a  future 
state— the  facts  being  universally  admitted.  .  .  . 
On  questioning  intelligent  men  among  the  Back- 
wains  as  to  their  former  knowledge  of  good  and 


274  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

evil,  of  God,  and  of  a  future  state,  they  have  scouted 
the  idea  of  any  of  them  ever  having  been  without 
a  tolerably  clear  conception  on  all  these  subjects." 
Sir  John  Lubbock  has  done  well  not  to  endorse 
Sir  Samuel  Baker's  statements  as  to  tribes  without 
religion  visited  by  him  in  Central  Africa.  Their 
inaccuracy  was  generally  detected  as  soon  as  pub- 
lished. Other  travellers  had  discovered  and  de- 
scribed what  Sir  Samuel  fancied  did  not  exist. 
Professor  O.  Schmidt  refers  us  to  "  the  Niam-Niam, 
that  highly  interesting  dwarf- people  of  Central 
Africa/'  as  an  example  of  a  people  "  without  a 
word  for  God."  It  so  happens  that  the  Niam- 
Niam  are  not  a  dwarf-people,  and  have  a  word  for 
God.  Prof  Schmidt  should  have  known  some- 
thing about  Schweinfurth's  book  before  appealing 
to  it. 

The  next  case  adduced  by  our  author  is  very 
instructive.  He  writes  :  "  Speaking  of  the  Esqui- 
maux, Ross  says,  '  Ervick,  being  the  senior  of  the 
first  party  that  came  on  board,  was  judged  to  be 
the  most  proper  person  to  question  on  the  subject 
of  religion.  I  directed  Sacheuse  to  ask  him  if  he 
had  any  knowledge  of  a  Supreme  Being  ;  but  after 
trying  every  word  used  in  his  own  language  to 
express  it,  he  could  not  make  him  understand 
what  he  meant.  It  was  distinctly  ascertained  that 
he  did  not  worship  the  sun,  moon,  stars,  or  any 
1  See  Appendix  XXIX. 

Sir  jf.  LjihbocJSs  Instances  Examined.       275 

image  or  living  creature.  When  asked  what  the 
sun  or  moon  was  for,  he  said  to  give  light.  He 
had  no  knowledge  or  idea  how  he  came  into  being, 
or  of  a  future  state  ;  but  said  that  when  he  died  he 
would  be  put  into  the  ground.  Having  fully  ascer- 
tained that  he  had  no  idea  of  a  beneficent  Supreme 
Being,  I  proceeded,  through  Sacheuse,  to  inquire  if 
he  believed  in  an  evil  spirit ;  but  he  could  not  be 
made  to  understand  what  it  meant.  .  .  .  He  was 
positive  that  in  this  incantation  he  did  not  receive 
assistance  from  anything,  nor  could  he  be  made  to 
understand  what  a  good  or  an  evil  spirit  meant.'" 

Now,  I  ask,  is  it  reasonable  to  conclude  from  the 
fact  that  a  single  Esquimaux,  when  questioned  by 
Captain  Ross,  through  an  interpreter  who  could 
only  speak  a  different  dialect  from  that  of  the  per- 
son questioned,  did  not  give  evidence  of  possessing 
any  definite  ideas  regarding  a  Divine  Being,  that 
there  are  Esquimaux  peoples  without  any  religious 
opinions  or  sentiments  1  The  Esquimaux  peoples 
are  known  to  have  a  tolerably  developed  religion. 
They  suppose  the  world  to  be  ruled  by  various 
supernatural  beings,  who  are  overruled  by  a  su- 
preme being.  To  certain  men,  called  "  angakok," 
there  is  supposed  to  be  granted  a  certain  control 
over  the  ordinary  deities  for  purposes  of  good.^ 

Sir  John  Lubbock  thus  concludes  his  argument : 
"  In  some  cases  travellers   have   arrived    at   their 
^  See  Appendix  XXX. 

2^6  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

views  very  much  to  their  own  astonishment.  Thus 
Father  Dobritzhoffer  says :  '  Theologians  agree  in 
denying  that  any  man  in  possession  of  his  reason 
can,  without  a  crime,  remain  ignorant  of  God  for 
any  length  of  time.  This  opinion  I  warmly  de- 
fended in  the  University  of  Cordoba,  where  I  fin- 
ished the  four  years'  course  of  theology  begun  at 
Gratz,  in  Styria.  But  what  was  my  astonishment 
when,  on  removing  from  thence  to  a  colony  of 
Abipones,  I  found  that  the  whole  language  of  these 
savages  does  not  contain  a  single  word  which  ex- 
presses God  or  a  divinity.  To  instruct  them  in 
religion,  it  was  necessary  to  borrow  the  Spanish 
word  for  God,  and  insert  into  the  catechism  "  Dios 
ecnam  coogerik,"  *'  God  the  creator  of  things." ' 
We  have  already  observed  a  case  of  this  kind  in 
Kolben,  who,  in  spite  of  the  assertions  of  the  na- 
tives themselves,  felt  quite  sure  that  certain  dances 
must  be  of  a  religious  character,  '  let  the  Hotten- 
tots say  what  they  will.'  Again,  Mr  Matthews, 
who  went  out  to  act  as  missionary  among  the  Fue- 
gians,  but  was  soon  obliged  to  abandon  the  hope- 
less task,  observed  only  one  act  *  which  could  be 
supposed  devotional.'  He  sometimes,  we  are 
told,  *  heard  a  great  howling  or  lamentation  about 
sunrise  in  the  morning ;  and  upon  asking  Jemmy 
Button  what  occasioned  the  outcry,  he  could  ob- 
tain no  satisfactory  answer  :  the  boy  only  saying, 
"  People  very  sad,  cry  very  much."  '     This  appears 

Sir  y.  LubbocJcs  Instances  Examined.       277 

so  natural  and  sufficient  an  explanation,  that  why 
the  outcry  should  be  supposed  devotional,  I  must 
confess  myself  unable  to  see.  Once  more,  Dr 
Hooker  states  that  the  Khasias,  an  Indian  tribe, 
had  no  religion.  Colonel  Yule,  on  the  contrary, 
says  that  they  have ;  but  he  admits  that  breaking 
hens'  eggs  is  '  the  principal  part  of  their  religious 
practice,'  But  if  most  travellers  have  expected  to 
find  a  religion  everywhere,  and  have  been  con- 
vinced, almost  against  their  will,  that  the  reverse 
is  the  case,  it  is  quite  possible  that  there  may  have 
been  others  who  have  too  hastily  denied  the  exist- 
ence of  a  religion  among  the  tribes  they  visited. 
However  this  may  be,  those  who  assert  that  even 
the  lowest  savages  believe  in  a  Supreme  Deity, 
affirm  that  which  is  directly  contrary  to  the  evi- 
dence. The  direct  testimony  of  travellers  on  this 
point  is  indirectly  corroborated  by  their  other 
statements.  How,  for  instance,  can  a  people  who 
are  unable  to  count  their  own  fingers,  possibly 
raise  their  mind  so  far  as  to  admit  even  the  rudi- 
ments of  a  religion  t " 

On  this  paragraph  I  have  to  make  the  follow- 
ing remarks.  Father  Dobritzhoffer  went  out  to  the 
Abipones,  expecting  to  find  among  them  a  know- 
ledge of  God,  and  not  finding  even  a  word  to 
designate  God,  he  concluded  that  they  had  no 
religion.  He  expected,  that  is  to  say,  far  too 
much  ;  and  not  finding  it.  he  concluded  that  there 

278  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

was  nothing  whatever  in  the  way  of  religion  to 
find.      Missionaries   have   erred   thus   very  often. 
They  have   identified   rehgion  with  true  rehgion ; 
and  when  they  could  not  discover  the  latter,  they 
have  denied  the  existence  of  the  former.     From 
the  want  of  a  word  for  God  in  a  language,  it  cannot 
be  fairly  inferred  that  those  who  use  the  language 
have  no  belief  in  gods,  no  religious  notions  or  feel- 
incrs.      The  Australians  have  no  word  for  tree,  or 
fish,  or  bird,  but  they  are  certainly  not  ignorant  of 
trees,  fishes,  and  birds.    This  is  not  all,  for  Dobritz- 
hoffer,  too,  disproves  his  own  assertion.     He  tells 
us  how  the  Abipones  paid  a  certain  reverence  to 
the  stars,  and,  in  particular,  how  they  associated 
the  Pleiades  with  a  chief  deity — a  highest  spiritual 
agent ;  how  they  believed  in  evil  spirits,  in  sorcery, 
&c.     As  to  Kolben  and  the  Hottentots,  I  do  not 
understand   on  what  grounds  Sir  John   Lubbock 
suppresses  the  fact  that  Kolben   informs  us  that 
the  Hottentots  of  his  time  had  a  firm  faith  in  a 
supreme  power,  which  they  termed   Gounya  Te- 
quoa,  or  the  god  of  all  gods,  although  they  paid 
him  no  adoration  ;  and  that  they  had  an  evil  deity, 
called  Toutouka,  whom  they  supposed  to  be  the 
author  of  all  mischief  in  the  universe,  and  to  whom 
they  offered  sacrifices  in  order  to  appease  his  ill- 
temper.     That  the  Hottentots  worship  the  moon  is 
quite  certain,  apart  from  Kolben's  testimony ;  and 
Sir  John  Lubbock  had  no  right  whatever  to  set 

Sir  J.  Luhboclcs  Instances  Examined.      279 

Kolben's  testimony  aside.  The  Fuegians  are  not 
known  to  have  any  well-defined  notions  of  religion, 
but  they  have  superstitions  and  conjurors.  We  re- 
quire to  wait  for  information  as  to  what  their  beliefs 
really  are.  Mr  Darwin  and  Mr  Matthews  seem  to 
have  been  both  dependent  on  the  Jemmy  Button 
mentioned  by  Sir  John  Lubbock  in  their  inquiries 
regarding  the  religious  sentiments  of  the  Fuegians. 
I  must  confess  I  cannot  consider  Jemmy's  explana- 
tion of  the  facts  described  by  Mr  Matthews  as  quite 
so  satisfactory  as  Sir  John  thinks  it.  That  people 
should  cry  very  much  when  they  are  sad  is  natural 
enough  ;  but  the  peculiarity  of  the  case  is  the  cry- 
ing at  a  particular  time,  is  the  assembling  to  howl 
or  lament  at  sunrise.  No  amount  of  sadness,  it 
seems  to  me,  can  account  for  that;  while,  of  course, 
a  Httle  religious  belief  would.  Then,  as  to  the 
Khasias,  the  testimony  of  Dr  Hooker  is  again  mis- 
represented precisely  as  in  the  case  of  the  Lepchas, 
while  nothing  is  adduced  to  disprove  that  of  Colo- 
nel Yule.  The  Khasias  recognise  the  existence  of 
a  Supreme  Being,  although  they  only  worship  the 
inferior  spirits,  who  are  supposed  to  inhabit  the 
mountains,  glens,  and  heaths.  They  offer  liba- 
tions to  the  gods  before  drinking.  ''Breaking 
hens'  eggs"  is  their  method  of  taking  auguries — 
and  perhaps  one  not  more  ridiculous  than  those 
practised  by  the  ancient  Greeks  and  Romans.^ 
1  See  Appendix  XXXI. 

28o  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

I  have  now  laid  before  you  the  evidence  which 
Sir  John  Lubbock  has  been  able  to  bring  forward 
in  support  of  the  position  that  there  are  many 
peoples  and  tribes  wholly  destitute  of  religion. 
He  has  shown  more  industry  in  the  collection  of 
facts  favourable  to  the  conclusion  which  he  draws 
than  any  other  ethnologist  or  anthropologist,  so 
far  as  I  know,  and  for  his  industry  he  certainly 
deserves  commendation ;  but  it  is  impossible  to 
credit  him  with  having  carefully  and  critically 
ascertained  what  are  to  be  regarded  as  facts  and 
what  not.  I  do  not  charge  him  with  having  al- 
lowed any  theological  prepossessions  to  bias  his 
judgments  as  to  the  facts.  I  gladly  acknowledge 
that  he  displays  nothing  of  the  utterly  unscientific 
and  anti- religious  bitterness  which  characterises 
what  some  have  written  on  this  subject.  I  look 
at  his  proposition  and  proof  purely  from  an  anthro- 
pological point  of  view,  and  I  find  that  the  pro- 
position is  not  made  out,  that  the  proof  is  wholly 
unsatisfactory — for  the  so-called  facts  which  consti- 
tute the  proof  are  not  really  facts.  But  "  how,"  he 
asks,  "  can  a  people  who  are  unable  to  count  their 
own  fingers,  possibly  raise  their  minds  so  far  as 
to  admit  even  the  rudiments  of  a  religion.?"  I 
answer,  first,  by  asking.  Is  it  then  quite  certain 
that  there  are  peoples  unable  to  count  their  own 
fineers  }  T  know  that  the  statement  has  become 
a  commonplace  among  anthropologists,  but  I  do 

Sir  J.  Lubboclcs  Instances  Examined.       281 

not  find  that  there  is  much  evidence  produced  for 
it.  The  Australians,  according  to  Sir  John  Lub- 
bock, cannot  count  above  three,  and  have  no  word 
for  any  higher  number.  Yet  one  of  his  own  vo- 
cabularies shows  how  they  count  far  above  three. 
Thus  tres,  their  word  for  three,  thrice  repeated  is 
nine,  which  shows  that  these  Australians  can  not 
only  count  above  three  but  can  count  by  multi- 
plying threes.  The  evidence  on  which  anthro- 
pologists have  concluded  that  the  Australians 
cannot  count  above  three  would  prove  that  Eng- 
lishmen cannot  count  thirteen  and  upwards,  since 
thirteen,  fourteen,  &c.,  are  only  three  and  ten, 
four  and  ten,  &c.,  put  together.  But,  further, 
whether  the  Australians  can  or  can  not  count  their 
own  fingers,  it  is  certain  that  they  have  the  rudi- 
ments of  a  religion ;  and  we  are  bound  to  accept 
what  is  fact  whether  we  can  account  for  it  or  not, 
whether  we  can  reconcile  it  with  some  other  fact 
or  not. 

I  do  not  venture  to  maintain  that  there  are  no  1 
tribes,  no  peoples,  wholly  destitute  of  religion, 
wholly  without  any  sense  of  dependence  on  in- 
visible powers.  It  may  be  that  there  are.  I  only 
say  that,  so  far  as  I  can  judge,  it  has  not  been 
made  out  that  there  is  any  such  tribe,  any  such 
people  ;  and  the  examination  of  Sir  John  Lub- 
bock's instances,  far  from  leading  me  to  his  con- 
clusion,   leaves   me   with   the    conviction    that,   if 

282  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

there  be  any  such  peoples  they  must  be  very  few 

But  I  must  not  overlook  that  an  attack  on 
the  universality  of  religion,  or  at  least  on  the  uni- 
versality of  belief  in  a  God,  has  been  made  from 
another  side.  The  very  marvellous  system  of 
thought  called  Buddhism,  which  originated  in 
India  about  five  hundred  years  before  the  advent 
of  Christ,  has  spread  over  a  greater  area  of  the 
earth,  and  gained  more  adherents  than  even  Chris- 
tianity, and  by  peaceful  means — by  the  power  of 
persuasion — not  by  force  of  arms,  not  by  persecu- 
tion. Disregarding  all  distinctions  of  class,  nation, 
and  race,  and  enforcing  no  social  laws  or  theories, 
but  concentrating  its  whole  energy  on  showing  the 
way  to  eternal  deliverance  from  evil,  it  has  propa- 
gated itself  in  a  much  more  remarkable  manner 
than  Mohammedanism.  Although  driven  out  of 
India — Nepaul  excepted — after  having  flourished 
there  for  centuries,  its  devoted  missionaries  have 
spread  it  over  Ceylon  and  Burmah,  China  and 
Japan,  Tartary  and  Thibet.  But  Buddhism,  we 
are  told,  is  a  system  of  atheism  ;  and  the  three 
hundred  millions  of  people  by  whom  it  is  em- 
braced, ignore  in  the  most  absolute  manner  the 
notion  not  only  of  a  future  state  but  of  a  deity. 
"  There  is  not  the  slightest  trace  of  a  belief  in 
God  in  all  Buddhism,"  says  M.  Barthelemy  Saint- 
Hilaire  ;  and  many  others  speak  as  strongly. 

Arc  Buddhists  Atheists  ?  283 

A  very  little  examination,  however,  shows  that 
such  statements  are  stronger  than  they  ought  to 
be,  and  that  they  cannot  but  mislead  unless  they 
are  explained  and  limited.  In  this  religion  which 
is  characterised  as  atheistic,  gods  are  represented  as 
appearing  on  numerous  occasions.  In  the  legend 
of  Buddha  the  gods  of  the  Hindu  pantheon  are 
familiar  personages,  and  never  is  a  shadow  of  doubt 
thrown  on  their  existence.  "  It  is  not  enough  to 
say,"  wTites  Saint-Hilaire,  "that  Buddha  does  not 
believe  in  God.  He  ignores  Him  in  such  a  com- 
plete manner,  that  he  does  not  even  care  about 
denying  His  existence  ;  he  does  not  care  about 
trying  to  abolish  Him  ;  he  neither  mentions  such 
a  being  in  order  to  explain  the  origin  or  the  anterior 
existence  of  man  and  his  present  life,  nor  for  the 
purpose  of  conjecturing  his  future  state  and  his 
eventual  freedom.  Buddha  has  no  acquaintance 
whatsoever  with  God,  and,  quite  given  up  to  his 
own  heroic  sorrows  and  sympathies,  he  has  never 
cast  his  eyes  so  far  or  so  high."  Now,  if  by  God 
be  meant  the  true  God,  this  is  what  no  one  will 
either  deny  or  be  surprised  at ;  but  every  account 
of  Buddhism,  M.  Saint-Hilaire's  included,  and  all 
the  literature  of  Buddhism  yet  made  known  to  the 
European  world,  agree  in  showing  that  Buddha 
has  always  been  supposed  by  the  millions  of  his 
followers  to  have  been  familiar  with  gods,  and 
heavens,   and   hells,   innumerable.      You   will  not 

284  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

read  long  in  almost  any  Buddhist  book  without 
meeting  with  gods.  The  Lalitavistara  introduces 
us  to  Buddha  before  his  incarnation.  "  The  scene 
is  laid  in  heaven.  Surrounded  and  adored  by 
those  that  are  adored,  the  future  Buddha  an- 
nounces that  the  time  has  come  for  him  to  assume 
a  mortal  body,  and  recalls  to  the  assembled  gods 
the  precepts  of  the  law.  When  in  the  bosom  of 
his  mother  Maya  Devi  he  receives  the  homage 
of  Brahma,  of  f  akra  the  master  of  the  gods,  of 
the  four  kings  of  the  inferior  gods,  of  the  four 
goddesses,  and  of  a  multitude  of  deities.  When  he 
enters  into  the  world  the  divine  child  is  received 
by  Indra  the  king  of  the  gods,  and  Brahma  the 
lord  of  creatures.  When  arrived  at  manhood,  and 
hesitating  to  break  the  bonds  which  attached  him 
to  the  world,  it  is  the  god  Hridera — the  god  of 
modesty — who  encourages  him  and  reminds  him 
that  the  hour  of  his  mission  has  come.  Before  he 
can  become  Buddha  he  has  to  be  tempted  by 
Mara,  the  god  of  the  love  of  sin  and  of  death,  and 
to  struggle  against  the  hosts  of  hell  commanded 
by  their  chief."  And  so  on,  and  so  on.  Every- 
where gods,  even  in  what  M.  Saint-Hilaire  himself 
regards  as  one  of  the  most  ancient  and  authentic 
records  of  primitive  Buddhism.  But  all  these 
legends,  he  says,  are  "  extravagances."  Well,  there 
is  no  doubt  about  that,  but  they  are  extravagances 
of  religious  belief.     And  the  very  absurdity  and 

A  re  Buddhists  A  t heists  ?  285 

naivete  of  them  testifies  to  the  energy  of  the  belief 
In  spite  of  its  absurdities,  and  by  its  very  absurd-, 
ities  even,  the  Buddhistic  legend  testifies  that 
Buddhists  believe  in  gods.  But  an  atheism  which 
includes  a  belief  in  gods  is  an  atheism  of  a  very 
strange  kind,  or  rather  a  system  which  everywhere 
avows  the  existence  and  action  of  gods  is  not 
usually,  and  can  only  very  improperly  be,  called 

But,  it  will  be  said,  Brahma,  Indra,  and  all  the 
other  deities  recognised  in  Buddhism,  will  dis- 
appear with  the  universe  itself.  They  are  not 
regarded  as  truly  gods,  because  they  are  not 
regarded  as  eternal.  They  have  come  out  of 
nothingness  and  will  go  back  to  nothingness. 
Now  observe  that  if  we  are  to  reason  in  this  way, 
if  we  are  to  call  every  system  atheistic  which 
implies  atheism,  we  must  come  to  the  conclusion 
that  there  is  no  religion  in  the  world  except  where 
a  consistent  theism  prevails  ;  that  all  forms  of 
polytheism  and  of  pantheism  are  simply  varie- 
ties of  atheism.  For  polytheism  and  pantheism 
are  both  essentially  self-contradictory,  and  must 
logically  pass  over  either  into  atheism  or  theism. 
There  is  no  consistent,  independent,  middle  term 
between  these  two.  What  is  not  the  one,  ought, 
logically  considered,  to  be  the  other. 

All  the  Greek  gods  and  goddesses  were  believed 
by  their  worshippers  to  have  been  born,  or,  at  least. 

286  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

to  have  had  an  origin ;  there  was  admitted  to  have 
been  a  time  when  they  were  not,  and  it  was  felt 
that  there  might  be  a  time  when  they  would  not 
be.  Whence  had  they  come  ?  Their  worshippers 
did  not  clearly  put  and  resolutely  face  the  ques- 
tion, but  the  question  existed,  and  it  could  only 
be  answered  in  an  atheistic  or  in  a  theistic  man- 
ner. If  they  came  out  of  nothing,  or  were  the 
products  of  chance,  or  the  effects  of  eternal  matter 
and  its  inherent  powers,  then  what  underlay  this 
polytheism  was  atheism.  If,  on  the  other  hand, 
these  gods  were  the  creatures  of  a  self- existent, 
eternal  Mind,  what  underlay  the  polytheism  was 
theism.  But  if  theism  had  been  clearly  appre- 
hended it  would  have  been  seen  at  once  that  there 
was  no  evidence  for  the  polytheism  at  all ;  that  it 
was  a  system  of  fictions  and  fancies  which  dis- 
honoured the  one  all-sufficient  God.  And  what 
is  true  in  this  respect  of  Greek  polytheism  is  true 
of  all  polytheism.  In  so  far  as  it  falls  short  of 
theism  it  involves  atheism.  It  is  not,  however,  on 
this  account  to  be  called  atheism.  It  is  to  be  de- 
scribed as  what  it  is,  not  as  what  it  involves. 

Then,  all  pantheism  involves  atheism.  An  im- 
personal reason,  an  impersonal  God,  is  not,  if  you 
insist  on  self- consistency,  on  logical  definiteness 
and  thoroughness,  a  reason,  a  god  at  all.  A  reason 
which  is  unconscious  and  which  belongs  to  no  one 
subject,  a  God  who  has  no  existence  in  himself. 

A  re  Buddhists  A  t heists  ?  287 

who  has  no  proper  self,  is  not  logically  distinguish- 
able from  what  is  not  reason,  from  what  is  not 
God.  But  in  describing  a  system  we  have  no  right 
to  represent  it  as  being  what  we  hold  it  ought 
logically  to  have  been.  Pantheism  may,  like  poly- 
theism, be  logically  bound  either  to  rise  to  theism 
or  to  sink  to  atheism,  but  it  is,  for  all  that,  neither 
theism  nor  atheism. 

Hence  I  maintain  that  although  Buddhism 
should  be  logically  resolvable  into  atheism,  al- 
though its  fundamental  principles  should  be  shown 
logically  to  involve  atheism,  Buddhists  are  not  to 
be  described  as  atheists.  Even  millions  of  men 
may  stultify  themselves  and  accept  a  creed  the 
fundamental  principles  of  which  involve  monstrous 
consequences  which  few,  if  any,  of  its  adherents 
deduce  from  them.  It  is  clear  and  certain  that 
the  adherents  of  Buddhism  are,  as  a  rule,  not 
atheists  in  any  sense  which  shows  that  the  human 
heart  can  dispense  with  belief  in  Divine  agency. 
Their  Buddhism  does  not  prevent  their  believing 
in  many  gods,  and  this  at  once  puts  them  on  a 
level  with  polytheists.  Besides,  Buddha  is  re- 
garded by  them  as  a  god.  When  Saint- Hilaire 
denies  that  they  have  deified  Buddha,  he  main- 
tains a  position  which  is  contradicted  by  every 
Buddhist  writing  and  by  every  Buddhist  believer 
in  the  world,  unless  he  means  that  they  have  not 
invested   him  with  all  the  attributes  of  the  true 

g  -    288  Aiiti-Tlieistic  Theories. 

A  God,  which  is  what  no  one,  of  course,  ever  thought 
of  asserting  that  they  had  done.  It  is  incontest- 
able, indeed,  that  they  suppose  Buddha  to  have 
i  been  once,  or  rather  to  have  been  often,  a  man, 
'"  and  even  to  have  been  a  rat,  a  frog,  a  crow,  a 
vhare,  and  many  other  creatures ;  but  it  is  as  incon- 
testable that  they  suppose  him  not  only  to  have 
been  four  times  Mahu-Brahma,  the  supreme  god 
of  the  Hindus,  but  in  becoming  Buddha,  to  have 
raised  himself  higher  than  the  highest  gods,  and 
to  have  attained  omnipotence,  omniscience,  and 
other  divine  attributes.  We  cannot  say  that  they 
do  not  believe  him  to  have  been  a  god  because 
they  believe  him  to  have  been  born,  while  we 
admit  that  the  Greeks  believed  Jupiter  to  have 
been  a  god,  although  they  also  believed  him  to 
have  been  born ;  we  cannot  say  that  they  did  not 
believe  him  to  have  been  a  god,  because  they  be- 
lieve him  to  have  gone  into  Nirvana,  even  granting 
Nirvana  to  be  non-existence,  while  we  admit  that 
the  ancient  Germans  believed  Odin  to  be  a  god, 
although  they  also  believed  that  he  would  be 
devoured  by  the  wolf  Fenris. 

An  impartial  examination  of  the  relevant  facts, 
Jt  appears  to  me,  shows  that  religion  is .  virtikaii^ 
\  universal.     The  world  has  been  so  framed,  and  the 
mind   so  constituted,  that  man,  even  in  his  low- 
est estate,  and  over  all  the  world,  gives  evidence 
of  possessing  religious  perceptions  and  emotions. 

Religion  virtually  Universal.  289 

However  beclouded  with  ignorance,  sensuousness, 
and  passion  his  nature  may  be,  certain  rays  from  a 
higher  world  reach  his  soul.  However  degraded 
and  perverted  it  may  be,  there  remains  a  some- 
thing within  it  which  the  material  and  the  sensu- 
ous  cannot  satisfy,  and  which  testifies  that  God  is 
the  true  home  of  the  Spirit. ^ 

^  See  Appendix  XXXII. 

290  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 



In  the  concluding  portion  of  last  lecture  I  argued 
that  the  millions  of  persons  who  profess  the  doc- 
trine of  Buddha  were  not  to  be  summarily  de- 
scribed as  atheists  and  denied  to  have  any  reli- 
gious beliefs  or  aspirations.  I  did  not,  however, 
argue  that  Buddhism  was  not  logically  resolv- 
able into  atheism,  or  maintain  that  it  did  not 
very  distinctly  involve  atheism.  In  all  heathen 
religions  there  are  atheistical  tendencies.  In 
every  form  of  pantheism  and  of  polytheism  un- 
belief is  interwoven  with  faith.  But  there  is  pro- 
bably no  religion  which  comes  so  near  atheism, 
or  which  to  the  same  extent  involves  atheism, 
as  Buddhism.  It  originated  in  the  essentially 
atheistical  conviction  that  the  existence  of  the 
universe  is  an  illusion,  and  the  existence  of  sentient 
and  rational  beings  an  incalculable  evil, — in  the 
settled  contempt  for  nature   and  life,  which  was 

Ancient  and  Modern  Pessimism.  291 

the  logical  outcome  of  Brahminical  pantheism,  and 
a  result  at  which  all  Hindu  philosophy  arrived. 
The  atheism  and  the  pessimism  which  came  to 
light  in  Buddhism  were  latent  in  Brahminism  from 
the  first,  and  became  prominent  and  conspicuous 
in  various  forms  in  the  course  of  its  development. 
Instead  of  looking  at  the  phenomena  of  the  world, 
history,  and  mind,  as  manifestations  of  the  power, 
wisdom,  and  goodness  of  an  infinite  Creator  and 
Father,  who  by  means  of  them  discloses  Himself 
to  his  children,  and  educates  and  disciplines  them 
for  a  good  and  gracious  issue,  the  thinkers  of 
India,  even  when  pronouncing  these  phenomena 
to  be  intimately  connected  with  the  substance  of 
Divinity,  the  sole  existence,  irreligiously  viewed 
them  as  mischievous  mockeries,  fitted  only  to 
deceive  and  enslave  all  that  was  noble  in  human 
nature.  The  atheism  and  pessimism  of  Buddhism 
were  the  ripened  fruits  of  that  root  of  bitterness. 

In  quite  recent  times  a  system  very  similar  to 
Buddhism  has  appeared  in  Germany,  and  been 
advocated  by  Schopenhauer,  Von  Hartmann,  and 
numerous  other  writers.  Like  Buddhism,  it  has 
sprung  from  a  scepticism  which  was  itself  the  pro- 
duct of  pantheism.  It  is  the  atheism  of  pantheism 
evolved  into  a  rival  doctrine.  It  has  already  been 
presented  to  the  German  people  in  various  forms, 
and  has  acquired  a  somewhat  startling  popularity 
among  them.     There  can  be  no  doubt  that  many 

292  Anti-Tlieistic  Tlieories. 

who  do  not  accept  it  in  its  entirety  largely  sym- 
pathise with  its  dogmas  as  to  life,  death,  and 
eternity.  In  all  probability  it  will  obtain,  before 
long,  literary  representatives  in  this  country,  who, 
while  finding  perhaps  few  to  adopt  the  fantastic 
metaphysics  of  its  founders,  may  be  easily  able 
widely  to  diffuse  some  of  its  falsest  principles  and 
dreariest  conclusions.  I  entertain  not  the  least 
hope  that  it  will  soon  entirely  disappear.  Those 
who  regard  it  as  a  merely  transient  and  superficial 
fashion  of  thought,  as  a  touch  or  shade  of  spec- 
ulative disease  which  will  speedily  vanish  away, 
cannot  perceive  what  is,  however,  manifestly  the 
truth,  that,  with  all  its  defects,  it  has  the  great 
merit  of  distinctly  raising  a  question  of  enormous 
importance,  which  has  been  strangely  overlooked 
even  by  philosophy  ;  and  further,  that  it  is  neither 
an  inconsistent  nor  an  unreasonable  answer  to  that 
question,  certain  widely  prevalent  principles  being 

The  question  to  which  I  refer  is,  What  is  the 
worth  of  life  }  It  is  a  question  which  few  healthy 
and  busy  practical  men,  especially  if  moderately 
successful,  ever  ask,  even  in  its  immediate  personal 
application  to  their  own  ambitions  and  enterprises. 
It  generally  needs  disappointment,  sickness,  or 
grief  to  raise  even  momentarily  the  suspicion  that 
human  life  may  be  but  a  vanity,  and  its  schemes 
only  shadows  ;  and  the  vast  majority  of  those  on 

Mission  of  Pessiviisni.  293 

whom  this  suspicion  is  forced,  strive  to  get  rid  of  it 
as  quickly  as  they  can.  In  natures  with  a  thirst 
for  happiness  too  deep  to  be  quenched  in  the 
shallow  waters  of  experience,  or  with  a  keen  per- 
ception of  the  law  of  good,  and  an  equally  keen 
consciousness  of  a  law  in  the  members  warring 
against  it  and  bringing  it  into  subjection,  dis- 
appointment with  this  life,  if  not  counteracted  by 
faith  in  one  which  is  better,  may  settle  into  the 
conviction  that  the  world  is  but 

"  One  desert, 
Barren  and  cold,  on  which  the  wild  waves  break, 
But  nothing  rests,  save  carcasses  and  wrecks, 
Rocks,  and  the  salt-surf  weeds  of  bitterness." 

In  times  when  society  is  disorganised,  when  old 
faiths  and  old  ideals  have  lost  their  charm  and 
power,  when  culture  is  widely  spread,  but  corrup- 
tion is  still  more  diffused,  a  feeling  of  life's  nothing- 
ness may  be  profound  and  prevalent,  and  may  ex- 
press itself  in  many  forms.  And,  in  fact,  a  vein  of 
pessimism  may  be  traced  almost  throughout  his- 
tory. Its  throbs  may  be  heard  in  the  sad  refrains 
of  many  a  poet — as,  for  instance,  within  the  present 
century,  in  those  of  a  Byron  in  England,  a  Heine 
and  Lenau  in  Germany,  a  Musset  and  Ackermann 
in  France,  a  Leopardi  in  Italy,  and  a  Campoamor 
in  Spain. 

It  was  reserved,  however,  for  the  modern  pessimist 
philosophers  of  Germany  distinctly  to  recognise  that 

294  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

the  question  as  to  the  worth  of  human  hfe  deserved 
to  be  regarded  as  one  of  the  chief  problems  of 
thought.  It  was  reserved  for  them  also  to  present 
as  a  reasoned  and  even  demonstrated  answer  to  it, 
what  had  previously  only  been  uttered  as  a  cry  of 
agony  or  weariness,  that  life  was  worth  less  than 
nothing, — that  non-existence  was  better  than  ex- 
istence. Although  all  the  philosophers  of  ancient 
Greece  and  Rome  had  sought  to  ascertain  the  end 
of  life,  they  all  tacitly  agreed  to  identify  it  with  the 
good.  None  who  came  after  them  until  Schopen- 
hauer appeared,  ventured  directly  and  explicitly  to 
deny  the  truth  of  that  assumption.  But  such  a 
denial  was  indispensably  needed  in  order  to  dispel 
the  dogmatic  slumber  which  weighed  on  the  human 
mind  as  to  this  matter.  And  the  denial  came. 
Pessimism,  like  Macbeth,  has  murdered  sleep. 
Henceforth  no  man  who  cultivates  philosophy,  and 
especially  no  man  who  cultivates  moral  philosophy, 
can  remain  ignorant  that  the  question,  What  is  the 
worth  of  life .?  demands  from  him  as  much  serious 
consideration  as  the  question.  Is  man  a  free  or  a 
necessitated  agent }  or  as  the  question.  What  is 
the  foundation  of  virtue  }  Nor  can  the  awakening 
stop  here ;  but  from  the  philosophical  consciousness 
it  must  descend  to  the  common  consciousness,  and 
must  spread  until  all  intelligent  and  educated  men 
are  brought  to  feel  that  the  theme  is  one  on  which 
they  are  bound  to  meditate.      In    this   I    see   an 

Mission  of  Pessimism.  295 

ample  providential  justification  of  pessimism.  It 
has  its  mission  ;  and  now  that  it  is  here,  it  will  not 
pass  away  until  that  mission  is  accomplished — which 
will  not  be,  so  long  as  atheistical  principles  are  pre- 
valent. It  can  only  be  overcome  through  the  re- 
pression and  refutation  of  atheism.  If  the  present 
life  be  all ;  if  there  be  no  God  and  no  immortality  ; 
if  nothing  have  value  except  what  can  be  empiri- 
cally measured  and  weighed, — it  may  be  possible 
to  prove  that  such  assertions  as  that  consciousness 
is  necessarily  and  essentially  pain  ;  that  misery  is 
always  in  excess  of  happiness ;  that  the  course  of 
things  is  only  from  bad  to  worse,  &c., — are  exag- 
gerations ;  but  not,  I  think,  to  disprove  that  what 
good  there  is  in  life  is  so  mingled  with  sin,  suffer- 
ing, and  delusion,  that  a  wise  man  may  reasonably 
and  deliberately  wish  that  he  had  never  been  born. 
More  than  this  pessimism  is  not  logically  bound  to 
maintain  ;  and  this  it  may  successfully  maintain 
against  all  who  agree  with  it  in  the  acceptance  of 
atheistical  principles.  Of  course,  this  is  of  itself, 
in  my  opinion,  a  very  good  reason  for  not  accept- 
ing atheistical  principles  without  the  most  careful 

It  is  impossible  for  me,  within  the  limits  at  my 
disposal,  to  describe  and  examine  the  various 
systems  of  pessimism  separately.  I  shall  therefore 
group  them  together,  and  endeavour  to  give  a 
certain  unity  and  interest  to  my  treatment  of  them 

296  Anti-Thcistic  Theories, 

by  comparing,  on  a  few  fundamental  points,  the 
doctrines  of  Schopenhauer  and  Hartmann  with 
that  of  Buddha.  The  sole  purpose  in  view,  it 
must  be  kept  in  mind,  is  to  determine  whether  the 
pessimistic  conceptions  of  the  world,  life,  death, 
and  eternity,  are  such  that  we  ought  to  abandon 
for  them  our  theism,  or  such  as  should  lead  us  to 
value  it  more. 

The  chief  difference  between  oriental  Buddhism 
and  German  pessimism  is  the  obvious  one,  that 
the  former  is  inseparable  from  faith  in  a  legendary 
person,  while  the  latter  consists  of  a  series  or  col- 
lection of  merely  abstract  systems.  Buddhism 
cannot  be  dissociated  from  Buddha  ;  pessimism  has 
no  necessary  connection  with  Schopenhauer,  or 
Hartmann,  or  any  other  person.  The  founder  of 
Buddhism  was  Siddharta,  also  designated  Gotama, 
Sakyamuni,  and  especially  Buddha— 2.  e.,  the  "  en- 
lightened." He  belonged  to  the  royal  race  of  the 
Sakyas,  who  lived  in  northern  India,  in  the  district 
called  Oude.  Legend  mentions  Kapilavastu  as  his 
birthplace.  The  age  in  which  he  lived  is  so  far 
from  determined,  that  while  some  fix  543  B.C.  as 
the  year  of  his  death,  others  prefer  368  B.C. ;  and 
every  new  inquirer  into  the  subject  seems  to  come 
to  a  new  result.  Buddha  renounced  his  princely 
rank  for  the  ascetic  state ;  convinced  himself  of 
the  unsatisfactoriness  of  Brahminism  ;  taught  the 
fundamental  principles  of  the  creed  now  associated 

Btiddhism  viorc  than  a  TJicory.  297 

with  his  name ;  and  by  the  persuasiveness  of  his 
speech,  the  benevolence  and  attractiveness  of  his 
disposition,  and  the  truth,  or  apparent  truth,  of 
what  he  inculcated,  gained  numerous  adherents. 
The  legends  which  have  been  invented  about  him 
form  of  themselves  an  enormous  literature  ;  but 
what  I  have  just  said  is,  I  believe,  nearly  all  that 
we  certainly  know  about  him.  So  far  as  I  can 
judge,  the  attempts  made  to  separate  between  fact 
and  fiction  in  the  legend  of  Buddha  are  almost  as 
delusive  as  the  attempts  which  used  to  be  made 
to  account  for  the  attributes  and  actions  assigned 
to  Jupiter  by  the  character  and  deeds  of  a  ruler  of 
Crete.  While  Buddha,  however,  unlike  Confucius 
or  Mohammed,  is  almost  entirely  a  mythical,  and 
not  an  historical  personage,  the  myth  of  Buddha 
is  far  more  important  in  the  system  of  Buddhism 
than  the  life  of  Confucius  in  the  system  of  Con- 
fucianism, or  of  Mohammed  in  Mohammedanism. 
It  is  a  peculiarity  which  Buddhism  alone  shares 
with  Christianity,  that  it  concentrates  itself  in  a 
person.  It  presents  an  ideal.  It  embodies  its 
teaching  in  an  example.  It  gives  an  object  for 
affection.  This,  there  can  be  no  doubt,  is  one  of 
the  main  sources  whch  has  enabled  it,  in  spite  of 
the  withering  nature  of  its  dogmas,  to  spread  so 
extensively,  to  root  itself  so  deeply,  and  to  retain 
its  hold  so  tenaciously.  For  the  character  of  the 
mythical  Buddha,  although  in  many  respects  wildly 

298  Anti-TJieistic  TJieorics. 

extravagant,  is  invested  with  an  undeniable  moral 
grandeur  and  spiritual  impressiveness.  It  exhibits 
in  the  most  striking  manner  all  the  gentler  vir- 
tues. It  is  simply  amazing  how  far  on  this  side  it 
transcends  the  Platonic,  Aristotelian,  Stoic,  and 
Epicurean  ideals  of  the  sage,  and  how  mean  and 
superficial  even  it  causes  the  boasted  wisdom  of 
the  classical  world  to  appear.  Among  its  features 
are  a  love  without  limits,  self-sacrifice,  justice, 
purity.  Buddha  is  represented  as  freely  enduring 
the  severest  afflictions,  and  freely  foregoing  for  ages 
final  beatitude  in  order  to  work  out  the  salvation 
of  others.  He  announced  his  law  as  a  law  of  good 
news  to  all.  He  preached  his  gospel  to  the  poor 
no  less  than  to  the  rich,  to  the  Soudra  as  unre- 
servedly as  to  the  Brahmin.  He  took  to  his  heart 
all  living  creatures.  He  enjoined  a  charity  which 
was  not  limited  by  race,  caste,  religion,  or  anything 
else.  He  counselled  all  to  live  a  virtuous  life, 
gentle  and  prudent,  lowly  and  teachable,  resolute 
and  diligent,  unshaken  in  misfortune,  uninfluenced 
by  partiality,  wrath,  folly,  or  fear,  faithful  in  the 
discharge  of  the  relative  duties,  and  actively  be- 
nevolent ;  and  to  all  who  thus  live,  whatever  be 
their  station,  circumstances,  or  creed,  he  promised 
victory  over  this  world,  and,  if  not  Nirvana,  re- 
birth in  heavenly  mansions.  Hence,  doubtless,  it 
is  that  he  has  gained  so  many  hearts,  and  drawn 
from  them,  as  it  were,  the  confession  of  the  young 

German  Pcssiinism  merely  a  TJicory.        299 

householder  Sighala,  "  It  is  wonderful,  master !  it 
is  wonderful !  'Tis  as  if  one  should  set  up  again 
that  which  is  overthrown,  or  should  reveal  that 
which  is  hidden,  or  should  direct  the  wanderer  into 
the  right  path,  or  hold  out  a  lamp  in  the  darkness, 
— so  that  they  that  have  eyes  to  see  shall  see. 
Yea,  even  thus  has  the  blessed  Lord  made  known 
the  truth  to  me  in  many  a  figure.  And  I,  even  T, 
do  put  my  trust  in  thee,  and  in  thy  law,  and  in  thy 
church.  Receive  me,  Lord,  as  thy  disciple  and 
true  believer  from  this  time  forth,  as  long  as  life 

The  modern  German  philosophers  who  accept 
the  Buddhist  theory  of  existence  and  hfe  as  sub- 
stantially the  true  one,  to  which  Christianity  and 
every  other  form  of  theism  must  give  place,  do  not 
ask  us,  of  course,  to  accept  any  legend  or  myth  like 
that  of  Buddha.  They  only  seek  for  assent  to  the 
fundamental  doctrines  of  an  essentially  Buddhistic 
creed.  They  set  forth  a  modified  Buddhism  with- 
out Buddha,  and  thus  strike  off  a  multitude  of 
extravagances  which  European  minds  could  never 
be  expected  to  entertain.  If  they  thus,  however, 
relieve  the  system  from  a  heavy  burden,  they  also 
deprive  it  of  its  chief  source  of  strength  and  vitality. 
Buddhism  without  Buddha — Buddhism  reduced  to 
a  merely  atheistic  and  pessimistic  theory — would 
be  a  wretched  substitute  even  for  Buddhism  in  its 
integrity.    It  is  impossible  to  imagine  what  virtues 

300  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

it  could  either  elicit  or  sustain.  It  may  spread,  but 
only  in  a  sceptical  and  cynical  age.  It  can  no 
more  reasonably  be  expected  to  call  forth  enthu- 
siasm for  the  true,  the  beautiful,  and  the  good,  than 
snow  and  ice  can  reasonably  be  expected  to  kindle 
a  conflagration  and  set  the  world  on  fire.  Its 
diffusion  through  a  society  can  only  mean  that 
vital  power  is  ebbing  from  it,  and  the  chill  of  death 
creeping  over  it.  Life  cannot  be  sustained  on  the 
doctrine  that  there  is  nothing  worth  living  for. 
Modern  pessimism  is  merely  this  doctrine  elabor- 
ately developed.  Buddhism  is  this  also,  but  it  is  a 
great  deal  more ;  and  in  what  it  is  more,  lies  chiefly 
the  reason  why  it  has  exerted  in  many  respects  a 
beneficial  influence. 

I  might  proceed  to  indicate  a  number  of  differ- 
ences between  Buddhism  and  German  pessimism, 
which  arise  from  the  ancient  and  Asiatic  origin  of 
the  former  and  the  modern  and  European  origin 
of  the  latter;  but  as  time  forbids,  and  this  is  not  a 
philosophical  essay,  but  a  lecture  with  a  practical 
purpose  in  view,  I  hasten  to  say  that  Buddhism 
and  the  recent  forms  of  pessimism  are  substantially 
agreed  as  to  the  nature  and  worth  of  existence. 
Buddhism  has  the  merit  of  possessing  a  perfectly 
definite  aim.  It  professes  to  show  men  how  they 
may  be  delivered  from  evil.  But  what  is  evil.? 
Evil,  according  to  Buddhism,  is  of  the  very  essence 
of  existence.     Wherever  existence  is  there  is  evil. 

Pessimism  and  tJie  Worth  of  Existence.      301 

It  is  not  man  only,  but  all  sentient  beings,  which 
have  been  made  to  mourn  ;  it  is  not  this  world  only 
which  is  a  vale  of  tears,  but  all  other  worlds  are 
also  vain  and  doomed  to  misery.  Buddha  looks 
through  the  whole  universe  ;  at  every  insect,  every 
creeping  thing,  the  fish  of  the  sea,  the  fowl  of  the 
air,  and  the  beast  of  the  field  ;  at  man,  in  all  stages 
from  birth  to  death,  and  in  all  conditions  from  the 
monarch  to  the  mendicant ;  at  the  generations 
which  have  passed  away,  and  at  those  which  are 
to  come ;  at  the  worlds  above  and  the  worlds 
below,  and  at  the  innumerable  intelligences  which 
inhabit  them, — and  he  sees  that  nowhere  is  there 
any  true  peace  or  secure  happiness.  Wherever  the 
stream  of  existence  flows — yea,  even  when  it  is 
through  the  lives  of  the  highest  gods — there  un- 
reality and  uncertainty  are  to  be  found,  and  sorrow 
is  to  be  feared.  Christianity  rests  on  the  belief 
that  God  made  all  things  very  good,  and  that  the 
evil  in  the  world  is  due  to  sin, — to  the  perversity 
of  the  creaturely  will.  Buddhism,  on  the  contrary, 
rests  on  the  belief  that  all  things  are  very  bad  ; 
that  existence  is  in  itself  evil ;  and  that  sin  is  only 
one  of  the  necessary  consequences  of  existence. 
It  does  not  deny  that  there  are  pleasures,  but  it 
maintains  that  they  are  so  rooted  in  delusion,  and 
so  surely  followed  by  pains,  that  a  wise  man  must 
desire  not  to  be  captivated  by  them.  It  admits 
that  there  are  many  seeming  good  things  in  life. 

302  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

but  holds  that  they  are  all  merely  seemhigly  good. 
It  recognises  that  there  are  in  every  order  of  exist- 
ences and  actions  some  relatively  good,  but  not 
that  any  are  absolutely  good.  Many  things  are 
better  than  other  things,  but  the  best  of  all  is  not 
to  be  at  all.  Parinibbana — complete  extinction — 
is  the  highest  good. 

Schopenhauer,  Hartmann,  and  their  followers, 
endorse  the  Buddhist  view.  The  former,  indeed, 
draws  a  still  darker  picture.  He  falls  into  exag- 
gerations from  which  Buddha  and  his  followers 
kept  themselves  free,  and  which  are  not  necessar- 
ily implied  in  the  pessimistic  theory  of  existence. 
The  world,  according  to  him,  is  the  worst  possible. 
Had  it  been  worse  it  would  not  have  been  able  to 
exist  at  all.  Had  man  been  made  only  a  little 
more  wretched — had  a  small  amount  of  deceitful 
pleasure  not  been  poured  into  his  cup — he  would 
have  refused  to  endure  life.  Things  would  thus 
have  been  better  if  they  had  been  worse,  seeing 
that  humanity  would  then  have  taken  its  fate  into 
its  own  hands  and  put  an  end  to  itself.  Life  is  ne- 
cessarily and  hopelessly  wretched.  To  live  is  to 
desire,  to  desire  is  to  want,  to  want  is  to  suffer,  and 
hence  to  live  is  to  suffer.  No  man  is  happy  except 
when  drunk  or  deluded  ;  his  happiness  is  only  like 
that  of  a  beggar  who  dreams  that  he  is  a  king. 
Nothing  is  worth  the  trouble  which  it  costs  us. 
Wretchedness  always  outweighs  felicity.     The  his- 

Pcssiinisui  and  tJie  Worth  of  Existence.      303 

tory  of  man  is  a  long,  confused,  and  painful  dream. 
The  notion  of  any  plan  or  progress  in  it  is  errone- 
ous. He  who  has  read  one  chapter  of  it  has  read 
all.  It  is  a  tiresome  repetition  of  horrors  and  follies 
which  are  ever  essentially  alike,  however  they  may 
differ  in  accidentals.  In  a  word,  Schopenhauer 
has  put  forth  all  his  power  as  a  writer — and  he  was 
a  vigorous  and  striking  writer — to  depict  life  as 
utterly  worthless  and  wretched. 

Von  Hartmann  is  rather  more  cautious.  He 
will  not  say  that  the  world  is  the  worst  possible ; 
he  will  not  deny  even  that  it  may  be  the  best  pos- 
sible, since  we  do  not  know  what  is  possible ;  but 
he  holds  decidedly  that  it  is  worse  than  would  have 
been  no  world  at  all.  He  does  not,  like  Schopen- 
hauer, represent  pleasure  as  merely  negative  and 
pain  as  alone  positive,  as  the  very  ground  and 
essence  of  life,  but  he  fully  accepts  as  true  the 
well-known  words  of  Sophocles,  "Not  to  have 
been  born  at  all  is  the  happiest  fate,  and  the  next 
best  is  to  die  young ; "  and  those  of  Byron — 

"  Count  o'er  the  joys  thine  hours  have  seen. 
Count  o'er  thy  days  from  anguish  free  ; 
And  know,  whatever  thou  hast  been, 
'Tis  something  better — not  to  be." 

He  believes  himself  able  to  prove,  by  an  appeal 
to  the  experience  both  of  individuals  and  of  so- 
ciety, that  pain  preponderates  in  a  high  degree  over 
pleasure,  evil  over  good.     He  does  not  deny  that 

304  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

there  is  a  kind  of  progress  and  plan  in  history, 
and  yet  he  regards  history  as,  on  the  whole,  an 
irrational  process,  the  successive  epochs  of  which 
are  so  many  stages  of  illusion.  In  the  first  of 
these  stages,— that  which  is  represented  by  child- 
hood in  the  development  of  the  individual,  and 
antiquity  in  the  development  of  the  race, — man 
hopes  to  be  able  to  find  happiness  in  this  world, 
in  the  pleasures  and  pursuits  and  honours  of  the 
earthly  life ;  but  this  hope  is  at  length  found  out 
to  be  deceptive.  The  soul  learns  the  vanity  of  the 
earthly  life  and  earthly  things  ;  learns  that  there  is 
no  rest  or  satisfaction  for  it  in  them.  With  Chris- 
tianity a  new  stage  of  history,  corresponding  to 
adolescence  in  the  individual,  is  entered  on.  Dis- 
appointed with  this  world,  man  looks  for  another 
and  seeks  to  lay  up  for  himself  treasure  in  heaven. 
What  he  knows  he  cannot  find  in  the  present  life 
he  hopes  may  await  him  in  a  future  life.  But  as 
the  thoughts  of  men  are  widened,  and  as  criticism, 
science,  and  speculation  spread,  that  hope  likewise 
is  seen  to  have  no  rational  warrant,  and  the  indi- 
vidual is  forced  to  acknowledge  that  he  has  no- 
thing worth  living  for  either  in  the  present  or  the 
future.  Hope,  however,  dies  hard  in  the  human 
breast  Hence  when  men  no  longer  dare  to  look 
for  anything  for  themselves  as  individuals,  they 
still  believe  in  a  collective  progress  of  their  race. 
This  is  their  hope  in  the  age  In  which  we  live, — 

Pessimism  and  tJie  Worth  of  Existence.      305 

the  manhood  of  humanity,  the  third  stage  of  the 
world's  history ;  but  it  also  is  an  illusion.  Wealth 
may  be  increased,  mechanical  inventions  multi- 
plied, and  culture  more  widely  diffused,  but  mor- 
ality varies  little,  and  the  development  of  intellect 
diminishes  happiness.  The  political  changes  which 
socialists  demand  will  inevitably  be  realised,  but 
those  who  suppose  that  men  will  be  any  the  better 
when  these  changes  have  been  effected  will  cer- 
tainly be  disappointed.  The  progress  of  history  is 
not  the  growth  of  any  positive  good  in  history,  but 
the  growth  of  man's  consciousness  of  the  nothing- 
ness and  vanity  of  human  life. 

The  mere  statement  of  views  like  those  just  in- 
dicated should  be  sufficient  to  render  the  believer 
in  a  God  of  wisdom  and  of  love  profoundly  grate- 
ful that  his  faith  saves  him  from  assenting  to  dog- 
mas so  false  and  so  terrible.  It  is  only  through 
the  possession  of  a  well  -  grounded  faith  in  the 
perfections  of  God  that  we  can  be  warranted  in 
entertaining  a  cheerful  view  of  the  destinies  of 
mankind.  To  be  "without  God"  is,  in  the  esti- 
mate of  reason,  equivalent  to  being  "  without  hope 
in  the  world."  This  does  not  imply,  however,  that 
grave  exaggerations  may  not  be  detected  in  the 
reasonings  and  calculations  on  which  Schopen- 
hauer and  Hartmann  have  based  their  conclusions. 
On  the  contrary,  the  most  manifest  exaggerations 
abound.     The  pessimists  are  plainly  not  impartial 


3o6  Anti-Theistic  TheoiHes, 

seekers  after  truth,  but  the  zealous  pleaders  of  a 
special  cause  ;  they  are  good  advocates  and  bad 
judges  ;  they  make  more  than  is  warranted  of 
whatever  seems  to  be  in  favour  of  the  view  which 
they  have  espoused,  and  they  depreciate  or  distort 
whatever  appears  to  be  inconsistent  with  it. 

The  main  reason  which  Schopenhauer  alleges 
in  proof  of  the  essential  wretchedness  of  life  is  a 
badly  executed  psychological  analysis — one  viti- 
ated by  a  metaphysical  hypothesis.  The  principle 
that  pleasure  is  merely  negative,  and  that  pain 
alone  is  positive,  is  derived  by  him  from  the  more 
general  principle  that  all  is  will — that  the  essence 
of  all  things  is  an  effort,  a  striving,  identical  with 
that  which,  when  manifested  in  ourselves  under  the 
light  of  consciousness,  is  called  will.  But  all  effort, 
he  holds,  springs  from  want,  which  is  pain  so  long 
as  unsatisfied,  and  which  is  no  sooner  satisfied  than 
a  new  want,  a  new  p*in,  is  engendered.  Willing  is 
essentially  suffering,  and  therefore  life  as  essentially 
willing  is  essentially  suffering.  The  more  elevated 
the  being,  the  fuller  the  life,  the  more  the  suffer- 
ing. The  lowest  animals  suffer  least.  The  man 
of  genius  is  of  all  men  the  most  miserable.  Pleas- 
ures are  only  the  momentary  alleviations  of  pain; 
happiness  is  but  an  evanescent  illusion. 

There  is  manifest  error  and  morbid  exaggera- 
tion in  such  a  view  as  this.  Life  implies  desire, 
and  desire  in  a  derivative  being  implies  want,  but 

Pessiviism  and  tJie  WortJi  of  Existence.      307 

if  the  want  is  always  supplied  there  need  be  little 
or  no  suffering-.  The  prospect  of  enjoyment,  not 
the  experience  of  suffering,  may  be,  and  in  many 
cases  is,  the  stimulus  to  activity.  Where  feelings 
of  unrest  and  disquiet  are  the  causes  or  occasions 
of  exertion,  there  may  be  in  the  exertion  and  in 
the  result  attained  by  it  far  more  pleasure  than 
pain.  It  is  pleasure  which  springs  from  the  fulfil- 
ment of  the  natural  conditions  of  life  ;  it  is  pain 
which  flows  from  their  non-fulfilment ;  and  hence, 
as  a  general  rule,  happiness  doubtless  preponder- 
ates over  misery  in  the  animal  world.  All  that 
can  be  legitimately  inferred  from  the  mere  exist- 
ence of  want,  is  that  the  being  which  is  conscious 
of  want  is  a  dependent  being.  Pain  is  not  inhe- 
rent in  want,  but  is  the  consequence  of  want  unsup- 
plied.  A  consciousness  of  want  is  the  root  of  all 
spiritual  strength  and  perfection.  The  life  of  com- 
plete human  blessedness  is  a  life  which  is  realised 
not  to  be  inherent  in  self,  but  to  flow  from  an  in- 
finite source  for  the  continuous  supply  of  every 
want.  Want  easily  passes  into  pain,  but  in  itself 
it  is  simply  an  expression  of  finiteness,  of  limita- 
tion. All  sufferings  which  are  needed  to  bring 
men  to  a  sense  of  their  wants  are  amply  justified, 
because  what  they  lead  to  is  not  evil,  but  a  some- 
thing purely  good,  if  there  be  an  adequate  and 
appropriate  supply  of  these  wants. 

Then  the  stages  of  illusion  described  by  Hart- 

308  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

mann  are  mainly  illusions  of  his  own.  Even  in 
antiquity,  —  in  the  Greco- Roman  world, — it  was 
only  the  foolish  who  hoped  to  find  happiness  in 
the  pleasures  and  pursuits  and  honours  of  earthly 
life  ;  and  the  foolish  hope  so  still.  The  majority 
of  men,  and  especially  of  thoughtful  men,  in  Greece 
and  Rome,  never  cherished  any  illusion  of  the  kind. 
It  is  possible  for  men,  even  in  the  savage  state,  to 
see  the  stupidity  of  such  a  hope ;  while  atheist 
philosophers,  even  in  the  nineteenth  century,  are 
apt  to  believe  in  its  reasonableness,  because  they 
have  no  other  hope.  On  the  other  hand,  that  hope 
in  a  future  life  is  an  illusion — that  wise  men  have 
discovered  it  to  be  without  solid  foundation, — is 
an  assertion  which  atheists  have  made  ever  since 
atheism  existed,  but  which  is  as  unproved  at  pres- 
ent as  on  the  first  day  it  was  uttered.  As  to  faith 
in  human  progress,  it  is  obviously  not  only  recon- 
cilable with  faith  in  God  and  immortality,  but 
more  dependent  on  it  than  on  anything  else. 
Faith  in  God  is  the  chief  support  and  source  of 
faith  in  progess.  If  the  former  be  rejected  the 
latter  will  not  long  be  retained.  In  a  word,  Von 
Hartmann's  conception  of  the  course  of  history 
is  very  superficial  and  erroneous — one  devised  to 
serve  the  requirements  of  his  general  theory  of 
existence,  with  extremely  little  regard  to  the  really 
relevant  facts. 

It  is  easy  to  show  that  Hartmann  has  under- 

Pcssiniisin  and  tJic  Worth  of  Existence.      309 

valued  what  arc  generally  regarded  as  the  advan- 
tages of  life,  and  exaggerated  what  seem  to  be  its 
disadvantages.  Yet  it  is  not  easy,  or  even  pos- 
sible, satisfactorily  to  refute  his  fundamental  thesis 
by  data  drawn  entirely  from  the  pleasures  and 
pains  of  common  experience  in  the  present  life. 
Experience  is  a  very  ambiguous  term.  It  may 
mean  merely  our  perceptions  and  sensations  ;  it 
may  mean  these  and  all  other  states  of  immediate 
consciousness  ;  it  may  be  so  widened  as  to  include, 
besides,  all  that  can  be  established  by  induction  ; 
and  it  may  signify  all  that  we  perceive,  feel,  and 
can  prove  in  any  valid  way.  In  its  narrower  sig- 
nifications it  is  an  inadequate  basis  on  which  to 
pronounce  recent  general  judgments  ;  if  its  third 
application  is  legitimate,  so  is  its  fourth  ;  and  in 
that  its  widest  meaning,  experience  is  coextensive 
with  knowledge,  in  which  case  God  and  a  future 
life  will  be  contended  to  be  objects  of  experience. 
Then  the  present  life  is  extremely  uncertain  and 
variable,  both  as  regards  quantity  and  quality.  It 
may  be  a  thing  of  mere  moments  or  of  many 
years,  and  may  have  the  most  diverse  sorts  of 
fortunes.  What  is  the  worth  of  a  life  of  a  few 
hours  of  suffering,  or  of  a  few  years  of  sickliness 
and  disease  ?  There  are  tens  and  hundreds  of 
thousands  of  such  lives.  A  man  may  live  long 
in  health  and  prosperity,  but  there  may  be  be- 
fore him  a  few  years  of  agony  and  wretchedness. 

310  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories. 

When  he  is  dead,  how  will  you  weign  the  maii}^ 
years  of  moderate  pleasure  which  he  has  enjoyed 
against  the  few  years  of  severe  pain  which  he 
has  suffered,  so  as  to  decide  which  scale  has  been 
the  heavier  ?  Can  you,  judging  by  mere  pleasures 
and  pains,  reasonably  pronounce  any  man  happy 
before  he  is  dead  ?  Further,  what  the  pessimist 
means  by  the  present  life  is  only  a  fragment  of 
the  present  life  of  religious  men.  The  world  of 
duty  and  of  spiritual  communion  is  as  real  to 
them  now  as  the  world  of  sense.  The  pains  and 
pleasures  which  the  atheist  regards  as  the  sole  and 
ultimate  elements  of  calculation,  seem  to  them 
facts  which  can  only  be  judged  of  aright  when 
viewed  in  relation  to  facts  of  greater  importance. 
How  can  we  estimate  the  worth  of  life  by  con- 
sidering exclusively  the  mere  fragment  of  a  frag- 
ment of  it  1  If  there  be  a  moral  life  as  well  as  a 
physical  life — if  the  m.oral  life  be  higher  than  the 
physical  life  instead  of  subordinate  to  it — if  there 
be  a  God — and  if  immortality  be  a  reality, — the 
reasoning  of  the  pessimist  is,  indeed,  plainly  er- 
roneous, but  not  more  so  than  the  endeavour  to 
refute  it  by  arguing  on  the  supposition  that  there 
is  no  independent  moral  life,  no  God,  and  no 
eternal  state  of  being.  The  pessimist  view  of 
existence  can  only  be  met  by  a  religious  view  of 

Mr  Sully,  the  author  of  a  very  able  work  on 

il/r  Sully  on  the  Pessimistic  Vieiu  of  Existence.   3 1 1 

the  subject  under  consideration,  argues  for  the 
contrary  opinion.  He  urges  as  his  first  reason 
that  "  it  is  by  no  means  agreed  among  men  that 
experience  does  guarantee  the  truth  either  of  a 
future  life  or  of  the  existence  of  a  benevolent 
Creator,"  —  that  "many  persons  very  distinctly 
reject  the  evidences  of  natural  theology."  To 
this  objection  it  is  a  sufficient  reply  that  the  ques- 
tion is  not  as  to  what  is  agreed  among  men,  but 
as  to  what  is  true.  Far  more  persons  very  dis- 
tinctly reject  the  philosophical  principles  assumed 
in  Mr  Sully's  argumentation  than  the  belief  in  God 
and  a  future  life.  His  second  and  principal  reason 
is,  that  "  the  worth  of  human  life,  so  far  from  being 
made  dependent  on  theological  conceptions,  is 
itself  one  of  the  facts  on  which  the  propositions 
of  theology  have  to  establish  themselves,  or  to 
which  at  least  they  have  to  accommodate  them- 
selves ; "  that  "  the  truth  of  the  existence  of  a 
benevolent  Creator  is  directly  affected  by  the 
pessimist  reading  of  human  life  ;"  and  that  "the 
belief  in  a  future  life  must  be  affected  so  far  as 
the  assurance  of  a  wise  and  good  God  on  which 
it  reposes  is  affected."  It  is  an  argument  which 
proves  just  the  opposite  of  what  it  is  supposed  by 
Mr  Sully  to  do.  Certainly,  if  the  pessimist  read- 
ing of  life  be  correct  the  theistic  view  of  it  must 
be  erroneous.  Does  it  follow  that  theism  ought 
to  take  no  account  of  pessimism,  and  of  what  it 

312  Anti-TJieistic  TJieo7'ics. 

alleges  to  be  facts  which  substantiate  its  account 
of  the  worth  of  life  ?  Manifestly  not.  The  plain 
duty  of  the  theist  is  just  the  reverse;  it  is  to  ex- 
amine all  the  facts  brought  forward  by  pessimism, 
to  compare  them  with  all  the  other  facts  on  which 
itself  rests,  and  to  show  that  the  true  reading  of 
human  life,  when  it  is  surveyed  in  a  sufficiently 
comprehensive  way,  is  not  pessimist  but  theistic. 
This  is  what  theism  does.  I  know  of  no  facts 
brought  forward  by  Schopenhauer  or  Hartmann 
which  I  have  not  taken  into  consideration  in  my 
argumentation  for  theism  when  estimating  the 
objections  which  may  be  urged  to  the  Divine 
wisdom,  benevolence,  and  justice.  I  allow  more 
weight  even  to  these  facts  than  Mr  Sully  seems 
inclined  to  do.  Why  is  pessimism  to  be  discussed 
in  a  way  which  would  be  utterly  unreasonable  in 
regard  to  theism }  If  theism  is  true,  pessimism  is 
false  ;  if  what  theism  alleges  in  its  support  are 
real  facts,  properly  interpreted  and  derived  from 
a  far  wider  field  of  existence  and  knowledge  than 
are  those  on  which  pessimism  relies,  pessimism 
must  be  an  erroneous  reading  of  life,  necessarily 
resulting  from  the  attempt  to  explain  a  text  with- 
out regard  to  its  context.  How  then  can  it  be 
reasonable  either  for  an  advocate  or  critic  of  it 
to  say.  Let  us  have  nothing  to  do  with  theism  or 
theology  .-^  let  us  concern  ourselves  with  nothing 
but  the  question,  Is  there  an  overplus  of  pleasure 

Mr- Sully  on  ihe  Pcssiuiistic  View  of  Existence.  313 

or  pain  in  life  ?  The  question  as  to  the  worth 
of  Hfe  is  one  which  cannot  be  so  narrowed  and 
isolated.  It  is  essentially  a  question  which  be- 
longs to  the  philosophy  of  final  causes.  The 
worth  of  life  cannot  be  weighed  in  the  false  bal- 
ances of  the  so-called  Science  of  Hedonics. 

What  solution,  we  naturally  ask,  does  Mr  Sully 
give  to  the  problem  raised  by  pessimism,  after 
having  consented  to  deal  with  it  in  the  narrow  and 
partial  manner  which  has  been  specified  }  This  : 
there  are  in  the  world  certain  permanent  conditions 
of  happiness,  such  as  wealth,  family  connections, 
agreeable  occupations,  self-culture,  a  due  adjust- 
ment of  the  aims  of  life,  the  voluntary  direction 
of  our  attention  to  what  is  pleasing  rather  than 
to  what  is  painful,  and  the  furtherance  of  others' 
interests  so  far  as  they  are  involved  in  the  pursuit 
of  our  own  happiness ;  if  we  thoughtfully  and 
carefully  seek  satisfaction  through  the  attainment 
of  these  things,  we  shall  secure  a  clear  surplus  of 
enjoyment  over  misery  ;  and  we  may  comfort  our- 
selves with  the  hope  that  the  world  is  growing  a 
more  and  more  desirable  place  in  which  to  live. 
It  is  an  answer  which  one  can  conceive  might 
become  popular  among  the  unreflecting  members 
of  English  middle-class  society,  but  which  is  not 
likely  to  be  widely  accepted  by  more  competent 
judges.  Surely  experience  has  proved  that  happi- 
ness is  not  to  be  found  in  v/ealth,  family  connec- 

314  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

tions,  agreeable  occupations,  and  the  like.  Surely 
it  is  certain  that  millions  cannot  gain  more  than 
daily  bread  for  themselves  and  their  families,  even 
in  the  most  disagreeable  occupations.  The  self- 
culture  which  aims  merely  at  happiness  cannot 
fail  to  miss  its  aim,  and  will  probably  be  as  pro- 
ductive of  evil  as  of  good.  To  attend  to  what  is 
pleasing  rather  than  to  what  is  painful  is,  as  a 
general  rule,  a  most  immoral  and  mischievous 
maxim.  We  are  all  far  too  much  inclined  to  get 
out  of  the  way  of  sorrow ;  and  what  we  really  need 
to  be  told  is,  attend  rather  to  what  is  painful  than 
to  what  is  pleasing.  To  further  others'  interests  in 
the  pursuit  of  our  own  happiness  is  a  playing  at 
virtue  v/hich  can  only  lead  the  conscience  to  a  con- 
sciousness of  hypocrisy.  We  have  no  experience 
that  the  world  will  grow  happier.  Experience  is 
only  of  the  present  and  the  past,  not  of  the  future  ; 
and  the  present  and  past  afford  merely  data  for 
vague  conjectures  as  to  whether  happiness  will 
increase  or  diminish  in  the  future.  There  is,  it 
seems  to  me,  no  probability  that  the  world  will 
grow  a  more  and  more  desirable  place  to  live  in, 
if  faith  in  God  and  the  hope  of  immortality  are 
gradually  to  decay  until  they  ultimately  die  out 
of  the  human  consciousness. 

Mr  Sully  acknowledges  that  his  answer  is  not 
one  which  will  satisfy  "  the  greed  of  human  nature." 
He  is  quite  right  there.     Yet  that  greed  is  a  most 

Mr  Sully  on  tJie  Pessimistic  Viczv  of  Existence.   3 1 5 

noteworthy  fact  of  experience,  and  no  answer  which 
does  not  satisfy  it  is  a  solution  of  the  problem  as 
to  the  worth  of  life.  There  is  nothing  so  insati- 
able as  the  human  soul,  and  there  is  nothing  which 
receives  from  this  w^orld  so  little  satisfaction.  There 
is  a  vast  disproportion  between  the  demands  of  the 
heart  and  the  realities  of  experience.  The  soul  is 
so  ambitious,  and  the  world  is  so  easily  exhausted, 
that  they  do  not  seem  to  have  been  made  for  each 
other.  Our  hearts  are  far  too  large  for  any  worldly  I 
life  ;  the  worldly  life  could  only  satisfy  for  smaller  [ 
hearts.  But  the  heart  can  ill  bear  the  perpetual 
contradiction  between  itself  and  life  ;  to  be  always 
asking,  and  never  receiving ;  to  be  incessantly 
agitated  and  incessantly  disappointed.  It  longs 
for  rest — for  peace.  And  it  has  a  choice  between 
two  ways  which  both  lead  to  rest,  but  to  rest  of 
very  different  kinds.  It  may  take  the  broad  and 
beaten  path  which  lies  in  lowering  the  heart  to 
the  level  of  w^orldly  life  ;  in  compressing  it  until  it 
is  small  enough  ;  in  restricting  its  desires  to  what 
experience  shows  earth  \vill  afford  ;  in  learning  to 
ask  little  and  to  expect  little.  This  is  the  way 
in  which  many  seek  and  find  rest ;  but  it  is  the 
infallible  mark  of  a  low  and  vulgar  philosophy  to 
recommend  or  sanction  a  procedure  which  leads 
through  the  degradation  of  the  whole  nature  to 
the  rest  of  spiritual  death.  True  wisdom  counsels 
us  to  try  the  other,  although  narrower  and  more 

3i6  Anti-Tlicistic  Theories. 

arduous  path  ;  to  seek  an  experience  as  elevated 
and  rich  as  our  highest  instincts  crave  for ;  to  be 
content  only  with  a  good  which  will  really  satisfy 
the  greed  of  the  heart ;  to  make  the  rest  not  of 
stifled  but  of  satisfied  desire — not  of  death,  but  of 
life — our  goal. 

Pessimism,  we  are  now  prepared  to  expect,  must 
rest  on  the  most  defective  notion  of  God,  or  rather 
must  be  virtually  without  God,  since  not  otherwise 
could  it  have  taken  so  appalling  a  view  of  things. 

The  dogma  which  has  been  mentioned  as  an 
essential  article  of  the  creed  of  Sakyamuni, — the 
dogma  that  existence  is  inherently  evil, —  that 
existence,  even  in  the  highest  intelligences  of  the 
celestial  worlds,  is  evil, — leaves  no  room  for  any 
true  belief  In  God.  If  existence  be  in  every  form 
and  aspect  evil,  it  cannot  need  Divine  intelligence 
and  goodness  to  account  for  existence ;  and  if 
existence  does  not  require  a  God  to  explain  it, 
non-existence  may  explain  itself  While,  there- 
fore, Buddhism  readily  embraces  the  gods  of  the 
various  countries  which  it  has  overrun,  it  acknow- 
ledges no  Supreme  Creative  and  Governing  Reason. 
It  assumes  that  there  is  an  eternal  succession  of 
worlds,  and  that  human  souls  revolve  perpetually 
in  the  urn  of  fate,  disappearing  and  reappearing 
and  passing  through  countless  forms  from  a  clod 
of  earth  to  a  god;  but  it  does  not  ask  how  the 
series  of  worlds  began,  or  Vv'hence  souls  originally 

Pessimism  and  A  tJicism. 


came.  Like  the  positivism  and  agnosticism  of 
modern  Europe,  it  is  content  to  regard  the  universe 
as  a  chain  of  secondary  events,  or  a  web  of  phe- 
nomena and  relations,  and  treats  all  inquiries  after 
the  origin  of  things  as  vain  and  useless.  While  it 
knows  of  no  First  Cause,  however,  it  affirms  the 
existence  of  a  mysterious  law  of  causality  condi- 
tioning the  uninterrupted  succession  of  causes  and 
effects;  and  this  law,  which  is  what  is  called  Karma, 
is  of  a  moral  as  well  as  a  physical  nature.  What 
determines  the  future  is  the  aggregate  result  of 
past  actions.  The  condition  of  each  one  to-day 
depends  not  only  on  what  he  has  done  since  he 
was  born,  but  equally  on  what  he  did  myriads 
of  years  ago.  There  is  thus,  according  to  Bud- 
dhism, a  sort  of  moral  government  in  the  universe, 
although  there  is  no  Moral  Governor;  at  least, 
there  is  a  very  comprehensive  and  rigid  moral 
fatalism.  When  a  world  is  destroyed,  as  in  the 
cycles  of  change  every  world  'must  often  be,  and 
when  not  an  atom  of  matter  in  it,  or  a  soul  which 
belongs  to  it,  is  left,  good  and  bad  works  remain, 
with  their  eternal  consequences,  and  give  rise  to  a 
world  and  souls  again. 

Buddha  is  not  the  First  Cause,  not  a  God,  not  a 
God-man,  but  a  man-God.  The  notion  that  man 
can  attain  by  his  own  exertions  divine  attributes 
— can  by  prayers  and  sacrifices,  and  mental  and 
bodily  discipline,  become  a  god,  even  in  spite  of 

3iS  Auti-Theistic  Theories. 

the  opposition  of  the  gods — is  a  very  widely  spread 
one  in  naturahstic  and  pantheistic  rehgions.  It 
was  distinctly  recognised  in  Brahminism ;  and  from 
Brahminism  Buddhism  borrowed  it,  or,  we  may 
even  say,  Buddhism  was  based  on  this  belief  of 
Brahminism.  Buddha  is  a  man-God  :  a  man  who 
has  risen  to  be  higher  than  the  highest  of  gods, 
because  he  resolved  to  do  so,  and  through  a  course 
of  millions  of  years,  and  hundreds  of  births  and 
deaths,  ever  kept  steadily  before  him  the  purpose 
that  he  would  find  the  way  by  which  the  souls  of 
men  might  escape  from  the  miseries  of  their  inces- 
sant wanderings  from  existence  to  existence. 

When  we  turn  from  Buddha  to  Schopenhauer, 
the  transition  as  regards  the  fundamental  point 
before  our  attention  at  present  is  not  very  great 
Schopenhauer  could  not  endure  theism.  The  way 
in  which  he  tried  to  account  for  the  universe  with- 
out referring  to  God  was  as  follows  :  The  world  of 
experience,  he  argues,  is  but  our  representation  ;  or, 
in  other  words,  the  objects  of  our  knowledge  are 
the  products  of  our  intellects.  There  is  no  world 
of  such  objects  existing  outside  of  us,  and  corre- 
sponding to  our  representations.  The  known  world 
is  produced  by  the  minds  which  know  it,  and  has 
no  existence  except  in  these  minds.  It  is  a  mere 
phenomenon  of  consciousness ;  it  is  a  delusion — a 
dream.  But  beneath  this  unreal  world  there  is — so 
Schopenhauer  argued — a  real  one,  which  is  con- 

Pessimism  and  AtJicism.  319 

stituted  by  what  he  calls  ivilL  This  will  is  said  to 
realise  itself  in  the  various  physical  forces,  and  in 
the  activities  of  vegetable  and  animal  life,  as  well 
as  in  what  are  commonly  termed  wills.  It  is  not 
accompanied  or  guided  by  intellect,  but  it  precedes 
and  creates  intellect.  This  blind  will — which  is  the 
will  of  no  one — produces  and  pervades  the  whole 
world.  It  is  the  one  reality  from  which  are  re- 
flected all  appearances.  What  Karma  is  in  the 
creed  of  Buddha,  Will  is  in  the  creed  of  Schopen- 
hauer. It  is  his  substitute  for  God.  But  if  we  ask, 
How  is  its  existence  to  be  known  }  he  cannot  tell 
us ;  and  if  he  could,  the  telling  us  would  be  of  no 
use,  since,  on  his  own  showing,  knowledge  is  delu- 
sion. If  we  ask  him,  What  is  this  will  which  you 
say  is  alone  real,  the  true  and  ultimate  explanation 
of  the  universe }  he  has  to  reply, — "  There  is  no 
possible  answer  to  that  question  ;  for  in  so  far  as  a 
thing  is  known,  it  is  not  real,  but  only  a  phenome- 
non." Thus  what  he  says  just  amounts  to  this : 
"All  that  we  know  is  delusion;  and  although  what 
I  call  will  is  real,  it  is  only  real  in  so  far  as  I  know 
nothing  about  it."  Such  is  the  theory  which  he 
puts  forth  as  much  more  profound,  and  self-con- 
sistent, and  lucid  than  atheism. 

Von  Hartmann  attempts  to  explain  the  universe 
by  what  he  designates  the  Unconscious.  He  re- 
gards the  Unconscious  as  comprehensive  of  an 
omnipotent  will    and    an   omniscient    intelligence. 

320  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

He  represents  both  the  primal  will  and  the  primal 
intelligence  as  unconscious  ;  but  as  this  is  a  mere 
negative  predicate,  and  as  he  shows  us  neither  how 
nor  why  they  are  united,  he  is  manifestly  from 
the  outset,  with  all  his  pretensions  to  monism,  an 
irrational  dualist.  The  unconscious,  he  argues, 
creates  and  constitutes  matter,  which,  according 
to  his  view,  is  only  an  arrangement  of  atomic  forces 
that  are  themselves  unconscious  volitions  which 
have  for  objects  unconscious  representations  or 
ideas.  It  likewise  originates  and  presides  over  the 
evolution  of  organisation  and  life,  so  that  its  opera- 
tions may  be  traced  in  all  biological  and  psycho- 
logical processes,  and  in  the  general  course  of  his- 
tory. It  attains  to  consciousness  in  man  through 
the  separation  of  intelligence  from  will.  And  the 
growth  of  intelligence  consists  in  ever  more  clearly 
recognising  the  folly  of  the  work  of  the  will. 

I  do  not  need  to  occupy  time  in  criticising  fan- 
cies so  arbitrary  and  self- contradictory  as  those 
which  have  just  been  described.  The  latest  of 
them  is  as  unreasonable  as  the  earliest.  Buddha's 
Karma  or  impersonal  moral  fate  is  in  no  respect  a 
less  satisfactory  explanation  of  things  than  either 
Schopenhauer's  will  or  Hartmann's  unconscious- 
ness. In  one  respect  it  is  decidedly  preferable ; 
it  is  moral,  it  is  not  mere  force.  Karma,  Will,  the 
Unconscious, — all  three,  conceived  of  as  substitutes 
for  God,  are  pure  myths.    That  the  two  last  should 

Pcssimisvi  and  A  theism.  3  2 1 

have  originated  and  found  acceptance  in  a  highly 
educated    country,  and  in  a  scientific   age,  shows 
that  something   more  is  required   than    education 
and    science  to   protect    us  from    superstitions  as  ( 
gross  as  any  that  haunted  the  medieval  mind. 

Neither  Schopenhauer  nor  Hartmann  has  ven- 
tured to  adopt  the  cardinal  doctrine  of  Asiatic  Bud- 
dhism, the  dogma  of  the  man-God,  of  the  develop- 
ment of  man  into  God  ;  but  even  this  extravagant 
and  hideous  tenet  has  found  a  European  advocate 
in  M.  Renan.  He  begins  the  book  intitled  *  Dia- 
logues et  Fragments  Philosophiques/  published  in 
1876,  by  maintaining  that  two  things  are  certain, 
— first,  that  neither  nature  nor  history  offers  the 
least  trace  of  the  intervention  of  a  will  higher  than 
the  human,  or,  in  other  words,  not  the  least  trace 
of  the  existence  or  action  of  a  God  ;  and  second, 
that,  notwithstanding  this,  the  world  has  an  end 
and  labours  at  a  vast  and  mysterious  work.  He 
next  proceeds  to  argue  that  it  is  probable  that  the 
work  and  end  of  the  world  are  the  evolution  and 
organisation  of  God  by  reason.  Thus,  although 
there  was  no  God  at  the  beginning  of  the  world, 
there  will  be  one  in  process  of  time.  .  God  did  not 
create  the  world,  but  the  .world  is  labouring  to 
bring  forth  God.  It  is  truly  wonderful  how  far 
atheism  and  evolution  together  may  carry  the 
human  imagination. 

I  remark,  in  the  next  place,  that  the  systems 

322  Anti-TJieisiic  TJieories. 

under  consideration  are  very  similar  in  the  views 
which  they  present  as  to  the  way  in  which  we  are 
overpowered  by  evil.  Buddhism  although  essen- 
tially atheistical,  professes  to  be  a  religion  which 
discloses  salvation.  It  represents  the  attainment 
of  salvation  as  dependent  on  a  knowledge  of  the 
causes  which  account  for  existence.  Existence  is 
evil.  The  causes  of  existence  are,  therefore,  the 
causes  of  evil.  The  immediate  cause  of  existence 
is  attachment.  Attachment — a  certain  cleaving  to 
existence — is  what  keeps  us  bound  down  to  it ; 
enslaved  under  the  law  of  transmigration.  Attach- 
ment, the  cause  of  existence,  is  itself  an  effect,  the 
cause  of  which  is  desire,  the  pursuit  of  what  pleases, 
and  aversion  to  what  is  disagreeable.  Desire  is,  in 
its  turn,  the  effect  of  sensation,  through  which  we 
become  aware  of  the  qualities  of  things,  and  so 
are  moved  to  seek  or  avoid  them.  Sensation  is 
still  no  more  than  an  effect.  Its  cause  is  contact ; 
not  necessarily  physical  contact,  but  contact  either 
through  the  external  senses  or  the  internal  sense. 
Contact  is  therefore,  in  its  turn,  consequent  upon 
the  six  seats  or  centres  of  sensation,  five  of  which 
are  external,  and  one  internal,  this  last  comprehend- 
ing all  that  we  call  sentiments, — all  states  of  feeling 
which  are  not  dependent  upon  any  of  our  bodily 
organs,  but  arise  from  mental  causes.  The  seats 
of  sensation  are,  in  like  manner,  referred  to  form, 
form  to  consciousness,  consciousness  to  conception, 

Pcssiinisni  and  the  Cause  of  Evil.  323 

and  conception  to  ignorance.  Ignorance  is  the 
ultimate  cause  of  this  chain  of  twelve  alternate 
causes  and  effects.  It  is  described  as  consisting 
essentially  in  regarding  what  is  evanescent  as  per- 
manent, what  is  illusion  as  reality,  or,  in  other 
words,  in  supposing  anything  that  exists  to  be 
anything  else  than  a  mockery  and  an  evil. 

The  theory  of  Schopenhauer  is  much  the  same. 
All  phenomenal  existence,  according  to  him,  is 
but  a  dream,  and  all  individuality  but  a  delusion. 
Life,  though  grounded  in  the  essence  of  things  and 
a  result  of  necessity,  is  a  mere  vanity.  It  has  its 
root  in  the  will  to  live  ;  it  is  a  cleaving  to  exist- 
ence, a  striving  after  satisfaction ;  but  striving 
springs  from  desire,  desire  from  want,  want  from 
suffering,  and  all  from  delusion  or  ignorance. 
Were  it  not  for  ignorance  of  the  worthlessness  of 
life,  there  would  be  no  will  to  live;  there  would 
be  no  life. 

The  teaching  of  Von  Hartmann  is  at  this  point 
in  agreement  with  that  of  Schopenhauer.  It  is  to 
the  working  of  the  irrational  will  of  the  Uncon- 
scious that  he  ascribes  alike  the  origin  of  .existence 
and  of  evil.  That  will  has  broken  away  from  the 
primitive  harmony  of  the  Unconscious,  and  nature 
and  life  are  the  deplorable  consequences.  Reason 
— unconscious  reason — follows  after  to  undo  as  far 
as  possible  the  evil  which  will  has  produced,  and  to 
convince  it  of  the  mischief  which  it  has  caused,  and 

324  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

is  causing ;  but  before  it  succeeds,  all  history  must 
be  traversed,  all  delusions  experienced,  all  follies 
committed.  The  new  Buddhism  is,  in  this  connec- 
tion, so  far  as  I  can  see,  neither  more  profound  nor 
more  reasonable  than  the  old. 

We  pass  on  to  consider  what  pessimism  has  to 
teach  concerning  the  chief  end  or  highest  good  of 
human   life.      In   the   Buddhism   of  Buddha   the 
series  of  causes  accounting  for  the  continued  flow 
of  existence  or  evil  is  regarded  as  of  extreme  im- 
portance.    The  nature  of  the  salvation  must  corre- 
spond to  the  nature  of  the  evil,  and  the  method 
in  which  the  salvation  is  to  be  attained  must  cor- 
respond to  the  causes  of  what  makes  it  necessary. 
Hence  it  is  perfectly  natural  that  the  discovery  of 
the  order  and  connection  of  the  causes  enumerated 
should  seem  to  the  Buddhist  to  have  solved  the 
enigma,  to  have  dispelled  the  mystery,  of  the  uni- 
verse.   The  nature  of  the  evil  must,  as  I  have  said, 
determine  the  nature  of  the  salvation.     Now  the 
evil  is  existence.     It  is  existence  in  itself — exist- 
ence in  every  form  and  aspect  it  can  assume.    This 
would  lead  us  to  infer  that  the  salvation  must  be 
the  opposite  of  existence, — must  be  non-existence, 
annihilation,  complete  extinction.      And   the  sur- 
mise  is  too  true.      The  reward  which   Buddhism 
holds  forth  to  its  votaries  as  the  highest  attainable, 
even  by  a  Buddha,  is  perfect  Nirvana — nothing- 
ness, the  absolute  void,  the  state  in  which  nothing 

Pes  sin  lis  in  and  the  Chief  Good. 


remains  of  that  which  constitutes  existence,  the 
entire  absence  of  sensation  and  self-consciousness. 
It  is  difficult  to  credit  that  men  should  have  been 
able  to  form  such  a  view  of  the  chief  good  ;  and 
the  European  students  of  Buddhism  have  tried  as 
much  as  they  could  to  resist  the  conclusion  that 
this  was  what  it  taught,  but  they  have  found  it  vain 
to  resist  the  evidence  any  longer.  With  the  ex- 
ception, perhaps,  of  Max  Miiller,  all  the  leading 
authorities  on  Buddhism  are  agreed  that  what  it 
points  to  as  the  ultimate  goal  of  a  pious  life  is  not 
merely  a  state  of  repose,  of  non-agitation,  or  a  state 
of  unconsciousness,  as  in  sleep,  but  extinction,  an- 
nihilation, nonentity.  This  conclusion  cannot  be 
affected  by  any  discussion  as  to  the  meaning  and 
application  of  the  celebrated  word  Nirvana.  It 
may  be  held  as  proved  that  the  Nirvana  on  which 
the  Buddhists  lavish  such  superlative  praises  is,  in 
their  oldest  writings  almost  always,  and  in  their 
later  writings  very  often,  not  annihilation,  but  a 
state  of  unruffled  calm,  of  blissful  freedom  from 
anxiety,  desire,  sorrow,  and  sin.  This,  I  think,  has 
been  nearly  made  out  by  Max  Miiller  and  Childers. 
But  Nirvana  is  itself  a  state  with  stages.  It  may 
be  complete  or  incomplete.  He  who  enters  into  it 
is  not  at  the  end  of  his  life.  He  is  only  sure  that 
he  will  arrive  there;  that  he  will  not  be  reborn. 
What  is  the  very  end  ?  What  is  Parinirvana  .'* 
There  seems  to  be  no  doubt  that  the  only  answer 

326  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

is  —  eternal  and  absolute  nothingness.  Were  it 
otherwise,  Buddhism  would  stand  charged  with  the 
most  manifest  inconsistency.  It  knows  no  absolute 
god,  no  world-soul,  no  being  into  which  the  perfect 
man  could  enter  or  be  absorbed ;  for  every  god, 
every  soul,  every  being,  is  illusion  and  vanity.  It 
distinctly  condemns  as  a  heresy  the  notion  that  man 
has  any  true  self,  any  real  individuality,  or  is  more 
than  a  mere  temporary  aggregate  of  quahties. 
Buddhism,  after  having  pronounced  a  sentence  of 
condemnation  against  all  existence,  was  compelled 
by  force  of  logic  to  confound  perfected  salvation 
with  complete  extinction. 

As  to  this  point,  however,  we  must  be  on  our 
guard  against  certain  exaggerations  which  are  cur- 
rent. Some  authors  write  as  if  the  terrible  nega- 
tion in  which  Buddhism  ends  were  one  of  the  chief 
sources  of  its  strength  —  as  if  the  void  abyss  to 
which  it  points  were  full  of  attractions  to  the  ori- 
ental mind — as  if  hundreds  of  millions  of  human 
beings  were  so  strangely  constituted  as  to  hunger 
after  absolute  vacuity  and  thirst  for  eternal  death. 
There  are  no  grounds  for  such  a  view.  What  the 
Buddhist  laity  hope  for  from  obedience  to  the  pre- 
cepts of  their  faith  is  to  be  born  again  in  some 
higher  and  purer  state  of  being  than  that  through 
which  they  are  at  present  passing.  The  Nirvana 
which  is  eulogised  in  the  Buddhist  Scriptures,  and 
after  which  the  Buddhist  saints  are  represented  as 

Pessimism  and  the  Chief  Good.  327 

striving,  is  not  the  cessation  of  existence,  but  ces- 
sation from  passion  and  change.  All  Buddhist 
thinkers  are  not  orthodox  and  logical ;  and  doubt- 
less many  of  them  are  not  nihilists.  In  the  pop- 
ular legends  there  are  stories  of  Buddhas  who  have 
come  back  from  Nirvana  ;  and  although  this  is  in 
manifest  contradiction  to  the  Buddhist  creed  as  a 
whole,  it  is  a  circumstance  which  ought  to  be  noted, 
as  showing  that  there  is  a  popular  Buddhism  which 
is  unconsciously  in  contradiction  to  Buddhism  as 
a  theory.  "  In  China,"  we  are  told  by  Professor 
Martin  of  Pekin,  "the  Nirvana  was  found  to  be 
too  subtle  an  idea  for  popular  contemplation  ;  and 
in  order  to  furnish  the  people  with  a  more  attrac- 
tive object  of  worship,  the  Buddhists  brought  for- 
ward a  goddess  of  mercy,  whose  highest  merit  was, 
that  having  reached  the  verge  of  Nirvana,  she 
declined  to  enter,  preferring  to  remain  where  she 
could  hear  the  cries  and  succour  the  calamities  of 
those  who  were  struggling  with  the  manifold  evils 
of  a  world  of  change."  The  human  heart,  we  may 
be  assured,  is  essentially  the  same  all  the  world 

The  pessimist  philosophers  of  Germany  are  very 
orthodox  Buddhists,  so  far  as  regards  the  belief^ 
that  annihilation  is  our  being's  end  and  aim. 
According  to  Schopenhauer,  life  will  gradually  be 
seen  to  be  what  it  really  is — an  empty  and  illusive 
form.     As  this  knowledge  grows,  the  will  to  live 

328  Anti-Theistic  TJieories. 

must  gradually  cease.  Men  will  refuse  to  preserve 
themselves  or  propagate  their  species,  and  will 
welcome  death  as  their  highest  good.  Thus  at 
length  individuality,  personal  existence,  will  pass 
completely  away,  and  life  will  be  cancelled  in 
the  nothingness  of  eternity.  The  blunders  of  the 
creative  power  will  thus  be  corrected  and  effaced. 
But  Schopenhauer  fails  to  give  us  any  assurance 
that  when  this  has  been  accomplished  that  power 
will  not  begin  again  to  blunder  as  foolishly  and 
mischievously  as  before.  All  that  he  seems  sure 
of  is  that  it  cannot  do  any  worse  than  it  has  done. 
His  hope  that  it  may  do  nothing  at  all  is  far  from 
consistent  with  his  general  opinion  of  its  character. 
So  irrational  an  agent  cannot  be  expected  to  act 
rationally.  Von  Hartmann  maintains  that  after 
men  have  passed  from  deception  to  deception  they 
will  at  length  recognise  the  utter  vanity  of  exist- 
ence, sigh  after  eternal  extinction,  and  seek  and 
find  it  in  a  collective  and  concerted  act  of  self- 
destruction.  Reason,  he  teaches  us,  will  ultimately 
convince  the  will  that  it  is  better  for  it  not  to  be, 
and  induce  it  to  annihilate  itself.  He  does  not 
inform  us,  however,  in  what  way  it  is  possible  for 
the  universal  will  to  annihilate  itself  Is  there  any 
dynamite,  asks  Dr  Ebrard,  not  irrelevantly,  which 
will  serve  the  purpose.?  Herr  von  Hartmann 
ought  to  know.  He  seems  to  suppose  that  the 
human  race  by  annihilating  itself  can  annihilate 

Pessimism  and  the  Chief  Good.  329 

the  power  which  originated  the  universe  ;  but  can 
he  seriously  beUeve  so  manifest  an  absurdity  ? 

Herr  Bahnsen  stands  alone  among  pessimists 
in  distinctly  denying  that  even  the  poor  hope  of 
annihilation  is  legitimate.  This  vigorous  thinker 
is  the  most  thorough  and  uncompromising  of  all 
the  advocates  of  pessimism.  He  maintains  that 
the  world  and  life  are  not  only  essentially  irra- 
tional and  wretched,  but  will  be  eternally  so.  He 
holds  that  his  fellow-pessimists  have  no  right  to 
promise  that  the  agony  of  creation  will  ever  ter- 
minate. If  his  view  be  correct,  the  words  which 
Dante  read  over  the  gate  of  hell  might  be  inscribed 
on  the  portals  of  the  universe — 

"Lasciate  ogni  speranza,  voi  ch'  entrate." 

That  his  view  is  not  correct  cannot,  I  believe,  be 
proved  on  pessimistic  principles.  That  evil  will 
have  an  end,  if  existence  is  essentially  evil,  may 
be  believed  on  the  word  of  Buddha  or  Schopen- 
hauer or  Hartmann,  but  reason  for  believing  it 
there  can  be  none.  The  hope  of  the  extinction 
of  evil  in  a  world  essentially  evil  is  an  unreason- 
able hope,  and  can  only  be  based  on  blind  faith. 
But  notwithstanding  this,  the  latest  Buddhists,  with 
the  one  exception  mentioned,  like  the  earliest — 
those  who  live  on  the  banks  of  the  Spree  and  the 
I\Iain,  like  those  who  live  beside  the  Meinam  and 
the  Cambodia — look  to  "  nothingness  as  an  asylum 

330  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

from  which  there  is  no  return,  and  in  which  the 
soul  has  no  longer  anything  to  fear,  nor  anything 
to  expect." 

In  conclusion,  we  would  ask.  What  is  the  path 
which  pessimism  advises  us  to  pursue  in  order  to 
attain  the  goal  which  it  sets  before  us  ?  How  are 
we  to  reach  what  it  represents  as  our  ultimate 
destination  ? 

Buddhism  finds  an  answer  implied  in  its  doc- 
trine of  the  series  of  causes  of  existence.  To 
break  the  chain  of  causes  is  what"  is  required. 
This  can  only  be  done  through  discovering  the 
worthlessness  of  existence,  and  ceasing  from  all 
attachment,  all  sensuous  cleaving,  to  it  in  any 
form.  To  secure  detachment  from  life,  a  code  of 
morality  is  the  first  thing  enjoined.  Buddhism  is 
predominantly  an  ethical  doctrine.  And  it  is  as 
such  that  It  is  chiefly  entitled  to  praise.  It  does 
not  fall  within  the  scope  of  this  lecture  to  dwell 
on  the  merits  of  its  moral  teaching,  but  I  gladly 
recognise  that  they  are  very  great,  although  not 
unaccompanied  and  uncounteracted  by  serious  de- 
fects. No  other  heathen  system  is  pervaded  by 
so  elevated  and  pure  an  ethical  spirit.  It  shows 
the  most  wonderful  appreciation  of  the  beauties  of 
such  virtues  as  meekness,  patience,  forgiveness  of 
injuries,  compassion,  and  charity.  It  is  inspired, 
like  Christianity,  with  a  sense  of  the  glory  of  self- 
sacrifice.     At  first  sight  it  almost  seems  as  if  the 

Pessimism  and  tJic  Way  to  the  Chief  Good.     331 

morality  which  it  preached  were  essentially  evan- 
gelical. Yet  this  is  by  no  means  the  case.  For, 
as  has  been  justly  said,  "if  our  earliest  impres- 
sion is  the  closeness  of  the  parallel  between  the 
morality  of  Buddhism  and  the  morality  of  the 
Cross,  our  second  impression  is  the  wideness  of 
their  contrast.  In  Christianity,  self-sacrifice  is 
divine  ;  in  Buddhism,  it  is  purely  human,  and  pro- 
posed as  the  substitute  for  a  religion.  In  Chris- 
tianity, self-sacrifice  contemplates  the  amelioration 
of  the  world;  in  Buddhism,  it  contemplates  getting 
out  of  the  world.  In  Christianity,  self-sacrifice  is 
proclaimed  to  be  the  source  of  the  highest  ulti- 
mate joy;  in  Buddhism,  it  is  offered  as  a  means 
of  suicide.  .  .  .  The  morality  of  Buddhism,  beau- 
tiful as  it  is  in  its  outward  precepts,  is  still  the 
product  of  a  root  of  bitterness,  and  owes  its  exist- 
ence to  the  despair  of  all  rest."  ^  Then  morality 
alone  cannot  lead,  according  to  Buddhism,  to  Nir- 
vana. It  is  a  help  towards  freeing  the  soul  from 
the  thraldom  of  the  causes  of  existence,  but  it  is 
no  more  than  a  help.  The  direct  path  to  Nirvana 
is  meditation  and  asceticism.  No  one  who  does 
not  traverse  this  path  —  no  one  who  does  not 
become  a  self- mortifying  monk  or  recluse  —  can 
hope  for  more  from  his  obedience  to  the  moral 
law  of  Buddhism   than   to   escape   the   hells   and 

^  Matheson — 'Growth  of  the  Spirit  of  Christianity,'  vol.  i,  pp. 
28,  29. 

332  Ajiti-Theistic  Tkeoi^ies. 

to  transmigrate  into  something  better  than  he  has 

In  entire  accordance  with  this  teaching,  Schopen- 
hauer maintains  that  the  will  to  hve  must  be  rooted 
out  by  fasting,  by  voluntary  poverty,  by  meek  sub- 
mission to  injury,  by  absolute  chastity,  and,  in  a 
word,  by  the  various  exercises  of  asceticism.  His 
practice  did  not  in  the  least  correspond  to  this 
part  of  his  theory,  as  he  was  particularly  careful 
of  his  life,  health,  and  money,  had  a  most  exclu- 
sive and  selfish  regard  to  his  own  comfort,  and  was 
decidedly  the  reverse  of  either  meek  or  patient. 
But  his  ethical  creed  was  perfectly  orthodox  in  the 
Buddhistic  sense,  although  his  life  was  heretical. 
Von  Hartmann  is  much  less  orthodox  even  in 
creed.  He  admits  that  it  is  hopeless  to  expect 
men  to  mortify  the  flesh  and  destroy  life  by  ascetic 
practices,  and  would  have  his  followers  live  just  as 
other  people  do,  in  the  trust  that  the  world,  owing 
to  the  delusions  and  disenchantments  of  history, 
will  gradually,  without  individuals  taking  any  care 
about  the  matter,  work  out  its  own  salvation — that 
is,  its  c  vvn  destruction.  In  the  East,  multitudes 
of  men  have  earnestly  striven  to  act  on  their  pes- 
simism. In  the  West,  no  one  has  as  yet,  so  far  as 
I  am  aware,  seriously  tried  to  do  so. 

The  theory  which  we  have  been  considering 
answers  successfully  ((^w,  if  any,  of  the  demands 
of  the  reason,  the  conscience,  or  the  heart.     It  re- 

Pessimism  and  the  Gospel.  333 

gards  the  world  as  irrational,  and  so,  of  course, 
does  not  explain  it.  It  la}-s  good  and  evil  under 
the  same  condemnation.  It  seeks  to  empty  the 
soul  of  the  susceptibilities  which  it  cannot  satisfy, 
and  to  extirpate  the  desires  which  it  cannot  regu- 
late. It  tends  to  arrest  all  social  progress.  The 
rest  which  it  promises  is  that  of  the  grave.  We 
ought,  I  think,  to  carry  away  from  the  contempla- 
tion of  it  a  deepened  gratitude  to  God  for  the  gift 
of  that  Gospel  which  has  shown  us  the  true  cause 
of  the  world's  misery  and  the  true  way  of  salvation 
That  even  in  our  own  day,  and  in  Christian  lands, 
the  Gospel  should  by  some  have  been  deliberately 
rejected  in  the  name  of  science  and  philosophy, 
and  the  Buddhist  theory  reproduced  as  a  substi- 
tute for  it,  only  shows  in  a  glaring  and  terrible 
light  that  what  is  esteemed  the  most  modern 
wisdom  may  be  very  ancient  folly.^ 

*  See  Appendix  XXXIII. 

334  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 



Pantheism  is  a  word  of  very  wide  and  very  vague 
import.  It  has  been  used  to  designate  an  immense 
variety  of  systems  which  have  prevailed  in  the 
East  and  the  West  in  ancient  and  modern  times. 
It  is,  in  fact,  a  word  so  vague  that  few  thinkers 
have  defined  it  to  their  own  satisfaction.  There  is 
no  general  agreement  as  to  its  meaning,  and  it  has 
been  applied  to  all  sorts  of  doctrines,  the  worst  and 
the  best.  It  has  been  so  understood  as  to  include 
the  lowest  atheism  and  the  highest  theism — the 
materialism  of  Holbach  and  Biichner,  and  the 
spiritualism  of  St  Paul  and  St  John.  There  is  a 
materialistic  pantheism  which  cannot  be  rigidly 
separated  from  other  materialism,  and  there  has 
been  much  talk  of  late  of  a  Christian  pantheism 
which  can  only  be  distinguished  from  Christian 
theism  if  theism  be  identified,  or  rather  confounded, 
with  deism.    The  term  pantheism  ought,  of  course, 

Nature  of  PantJieisni.  335 

to  be  so  understood,  if  possible,  as  to  be  altogether 
inapplicable  to  either  atheistic  or  theistic  systems  ; 
but  we  must  remember  that  systems  of  thought, 
and  especially  systems  of  religion,  are  seldom,  if 
ever,  perfectly  homogeneous  and  self- consistent. 
It  is  seldom,  if  ever,  possible  to  refer  them  to 
a  class  with  absolute  accuracy,  or  to  find  that  a 
definition  exactly  suits  them.  Even  in  regard  to 
materialism,  I  had  to  remark  that  the  only  kind 
of  system  of  which  its  history  supplies  no  record 
is  one  which  would  answer  truly  to  the  name  of 
materialism.  In  the  same  way  there  is  probably 
no  pure  pantheism.  The  systems  designated 
pantheistic  are  only  more  or  less  so  ;  they  contain 
likewise,  in  almost  every  instance,  some  atheistic, 
polytheistic,  or  theistic  elements.  It  would  be 
therefore  unfair  to  judge  any  system  solely  and 
rigidly  by  a  definition  of  pantheism.  Each  pan- 
theistic system  must  be  judged  of  in  itself  and  as  a 
whole  in  order  to  be  impartially  estimated.  Why 
each  system  has  come  to  be  what  it  is,  and  wh)- 
one  system  differs  from  another,  are  questions 
which  the  history  of  religious  philosophy  professes 
to  answer,  and  which  it  is  continually  learning  to 
answer  in  a  more  thorough  and  satisfactory  manner, 
while  the  characteristic  at  once  common  to  all  the 
systems,  and  distinctive  of  them,  is  still  not  very 
clearly  or  exactly  determined. 

What  is  pantheism  }    The  following  is  as  definite 

33^  Anti-T]ieistic  Theories. 

a  general  answer  as  I  can  give.  Pantheism  is  the 
theory  which  regards  all  finite  things  as  merely 
aspects,  modifications,  or  parts  of  one  eternal  and 
self-existent  being;  which  views  all  material  objects, 
and  all  particular  minds,  as  necessarily  derived 
from  a  single  infinite  substance.  The  one  absolute 
substance — the  one  all -comprehensive  being — it 
calls  God.  Thus  God,  according  to  it,  is  all  that 
is  ;  and  nothing  is  which  is  not  essentially  included 
in,  or  v/hich  has  not  been  necessarily  evolved  out 
of,  God.  It  may  conceive  of  the  one  substance  in 
many  and  most  dissimilar  ways,  but  it  is  only  pan- 
theism on  condition  of  conceiving  of  it  as  one. 
For  example,  there  can  only  be  materialistic  pan- 
theism where  there  is  believed  to  be  materialistic 
monism.  Its  adherents  are  those  who  regard  mat- 
ter as  ultimately  not  an  aggregate  of  atoms  but  a 
unity, — who  are  so  devoid  of  perspicacity  as  not  to 
see  that  materialism  and  monism  are  in  reality 
contradictory  conceptions.  Pantheism  may  also 
represent  the  derivation  of  the  multiplicity  of  phen- 
omena from  the  unity  of  substance  as  taking  place 
in  many  very  different  ways,  but  it  cannot  be  truly 
pantheism  unless  it  represent  it  as  a  necessary 
derivation.  It  must  regard  it  not  as  a  freely  willed 
production,  but  as  an  eternal  process  which  could 
not  have  been  other  than  what  it  has  been.  In 
order  that  there  may  be  pantheism,  monism  and 
determinism  must  be  combined.     It  is  only  then 

Nature  of  Pant Jieisvi.  337 

that  the  All  of  Nature  is  believed  to  be  coexten- 
sive with  God — only  then  that  the  Divine  Being 
is  supposed  to  be  fully  or  exhaustively  expressed 
in  the  Divine  manifestations. 

According  to  the  view  I  have  just  stated,  no 
system  which  does  not  include  determinism  and 
exclude  freedom  is  truly  pantheistic.  I  refuse  to 
have  any  controversy  with  certain  so-called  forms 
of  pantheism  which  I  do  not  regard  as  properly  pan- 
theistic, and  which  are  certainly  not  anti-theistic. 
If  matter  could  be  resolved  into  force,  and  force 
could  be  reasonably  inferred  to  be  a  phase  or 
exertion  of  Divine  power — if  the  laws  of  matter 
could  be  shown  to  be  modes  of  God's  agency,  and 
the  properties  of  matter  modes  of  His  manifes- 
tation—  if  Berkleyanism  could  be  proved  true, — 
some  persons  would  say  that,  so  far  as  the  physi- 
cal universe  was  concerned,  pantheism  had  been 
established.  I  should  say  nothing  of  the  kind,  and 
should  consider  such  an  application  of  the  term 
pantheism  as  not  only  unwarranted  but  injudicious, 
because  unnecessarily  provocative  of  religious  pre- 
judice. Physical  nature  is  not  represented  by  the 
view  to  which  I  refer  as  in  the  least  degree  more 
commensurate  with  the  Divine  power  than  by  the 
common  view.  It  may  have  been  the  free  pro- 
duction of  a  volition,  and  may  be  an  inexpressibly 
less  adequate  measure  of  the  might  of  God,  than  a 
thought  or  word  is  of  the  power  of  man.     It  may 


33^  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

have  left  in  God  an  infinite  energy  which  He  can 
direct  and  apply  according  to  the  good  pleasure  of 
His  will.  In  like  manner,  if  all  human  minds  were 
proved  to  exist — as  some  have  supposed  them  to 
do — through  the  conditions  of  intelligence  called 
primary  ideas  ;  and  if  these  primary  ideas  could  be 
ascertained  to  be — what  some  hold  that  they  are — 
thoughts  of  God,  not  only  present  in  the  mind  of 
man,  but  constituting  it  what  it  is, — although  Divine 
thought  would  thereby  be  represented  as  the  sub- 
stance, so  to  speak,  of  human  minds,  yet  if  a  dis- 
tinct individuality  and  real  freedom  could  be  justly 
attributed  to  these  minds,  pantheism  in  the  strict 
and  proper  sense  would  not  be  established.  The 
creature  is  so  dependent  on  the  Creator  as  to  exist 
only  in,  through,  and  by  Him.  What  amount  of 
being  it  has  in  itself  no  man  can  tell.  The  quantity 
of  being,  the  degree  of  being,  possessed  by  the 
creature  is  certainly  indeterminate.  The  finite 
cannot  weigh  itself  in  the  balances  of  substance  or 
being  with  the  Infinite.  It  cannot  ascertain  what 
measure  of  being,  what  amount  of  substance,  it 
has,  as  distinguished  from  the  Infinite.  Nor  is  it 
necessary  that  if  should  try  to  do  so  in  order  to 
preserve  itself  from  pantheism  and  its  errors.  It 
will  be  sufficient  for  this  purpose  that  it  adhere 
to  the  plain  testimony  of  consciousness  and  con- 
science, to  the  great  facts  of  freedom  and  responsi- 
bility.    In  knowing  ourselves  as  self-conscious  and 

Nature  of  Paiithcisvi.  339 

self-acting  with  a  certainty  far  greater  than  any 
reasoning  to  the  contrary  can  produce,  we  have 
a  guarantee  that  the  pantheism  which  includes 
fatalism  is  false, — and  there  is,  properly  speaking, 
no  other  pantheism. 

Pantheism  is,  as  regards  the  relation  of  God  to 
the  world,  the  opposite  extreme  to  what  apologetic 
writers  call  deism.  The  latter  theory  represents 
God  as  a  personal  Being  who  exists  only  above 
and  apart  from  the  world,  and  the  world  as  a  some- 
thing which,  although  created  by  God,  is  now  in- 
dependent of  Him,  and  capable  of  sustaining  and 
developing  itself  and  performing  its  work,  without 
His  aid,  in  virtue  of  its  own  inherent  energies.  It 
not  only  distinguishes  God  from  the  world,  but 
separates  and  excludes  Him  from  the  world. 
Pantheism,  on  the  contrary,  denies  that  God  and 
nature  either  do  or  can  exist  apart.  It  regards 
God  without  nature  as  a  cause  without  effect  or 
a  substance  without  qualities,  and  nature  without 
God  as  an  effect  without  a  cause  or  qualities  with- 
out a  substance.  It  sees  in  the  former  an  abstract 
conception  of  a  power  without  efficiency — and  in 
the  latter,  of  a  shadow  which  is  cast  by  no  reality. 
It  therefore  represents  God  and  nature  as  eter- 
nally and  necessarily  coexistent,  as  the  indissol- 
uble phases  of  an  absolute  unity,  as  but  the  inner 
and  outer  side  of  the  same  whole,  as  but  one 
existence   under  a   double  aspect.     Theism  takes 

340  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

an  Intermediate  view.  It  maintains  with  deism 
that  God  is  a  personal  Being,  who  created  the 
world  intelligently  and  freely,  and  is  above  it  and 
independent  of  it ;  but  it  maintains  also  with  pan- 
theism that  He  is  everywhere  present  and  active 
in  the  world,  "  upholding  all  things  by  the  word  of 
His  power,"  and  so  inspiring  and  working  in  them 
that  "in  Him  they  live,  and  move,  and  have  their 
being."  It  contradicts  deism  in  so  far  as  that 
system  represents  the  universe  as  independent  of 
God,  and  pantheism  in  so  far  as  it  represents  God 
as  dependent  on  the  universe.  It  excludes  what 
is  erroneous  and  retains  what  is  correct  in  both 
deism  and  pantheism.  It  is  thus  at  once  the  pure 
truth  and  the  whole  truth. 

Pantheism  has  appeared  in  a  far  greater  variety 
of  phases,  and  has  presented  a  far  richer  combina- 
tion of  elements,  than  materialism.  It  has  always 
endeavoured  to  comprehend  and  harmonise  aspira- 
tions and  facts,  ideas  and  realities,  the  infinite  and 
the  finite.  It  has  tried  all  methods  of  investiga- 
tion and  exposition,  and  has  assumed  a  multitude 
of  forms.  It  has  had  great  constructive  skill  dis- 
played on  it,  and  has  been  adorned  with  all  sorts 
of  beauties.  But  just  because  its  history  is  far 
broader  and  richer  than  that  of  materialism,  it  is 
also  one  which  it  is  far  more  difficult  worthily  to 
delineate.  It  is  not  much  to  be  wondered  at  that 
there  should  be  no  adequate  history  of  pantheism. 

Hindu  Pantheism.  341 

I  cannot  attempt  to  trace  even  the  general  course 
of  that  history,  and  yet  I  cannot  wholly  ignore  the 
subject,  seeing  that  pantheism  can  only  be  under- 
stood through  the  study  of  its  actual  development. 
Nothing  can  be  more  delusive  than  an  estimate 
of  pantheism  based  exclusively  on  a  definition  or 
general  description.^ 

It  is  an  error  to  regard  India  as  the  sole  fountain- 
head  of  pantheism.  Wherever  we  find  traces  of 
speculation  on  the  origin  of  things,  there  we  also 
find  traces  of  pantheism.  But  nowhere  was  the 
soil  so  congenial  to  it  as  in  India,  and  nowhere 
else  has  it  flourished  so  luxuriantly.  It  has  over- 
spread the  whole  land  —  overgrown  the  whole 
Hindu  mind  and  life.  The  pantheism  of  India, 
however,  has  always  been  to  some  extent  com- 
bined or  associated  with  theism.  There  are  hymns 
in  the  Rig-Veda,  relative  to  creation,  which  are 
distinctly  more  monotheistic  than  pantheistic.  In 
many  passages  of  the  Upanishads,  the  national 
epics,  and  the  philosophical  soutras  and  commen- 
taries, the  Universal  Soul  is  certainly  not  described 
as  strictly  impersonal.  But  theism  in  India  was 
never  either    strong  or  pure,  and  has  never  been 

1  See  Appendix  XXXIV. 

342  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

able  even  to  hold  its  own  against  the  deeply  and 
firmly  rooted  pantheism  of  the  land. 

The  literature  of  India  shows  us  the  successiv^e 
stages  through  which  its  religion  has  passed.  The 
earliest  is  that  disclosed  to  us  in  the  oldest  Vedic 
hymns.  It  was  a  phase  of  religious  naturalism. 
The  objects  and  aspects  of  the  universe,  and  espe- 
cially light  and  its  manifestations,  assumed  in 
the  imaginations  and  feelings  of  the  primitive 
Aryan  settlers  in  India  a  divine  character.  The 
bright  sky,  the  sun,  the  dawn,  the  fire,  the  winds, 
the  clouds,  were  deemed  by  them  to  be  instinct 
with  life,  thought,  and  affection — beings  to  whom 
prayers  and  sacrifices  ought  to  be  offered — agents 
at  once  physical  and  divine.  With  such  deities, 
however,  the  mind  could  not  long  rest  in  a  pro- 
gressive society.  They  were  too  vague  and  in- 
determinate; they  wanted  character  and  individ- 
uality. The  intellect,  the  imagination,  the  heart, 
craved  for  more  definite  personalities,  and  grad- 
ually developed  naturalism,  into,  or  replaced  it 
by,  anthropomorphism.  Elemental  deities  yielded 
to  human  deities.  The  two  states  indicated  are, 
however,  merely  stages  of  a  single  process.  The 
naturalism  by  no  means  wholly  excluded  the  at- 
tributing of  human  qualities  to  the  deified  natural 
powers,  and  the  anthropomorphism  absorbed  into 
itself  much  of  the  naturalism  out  of  which  it  had 
grown.      It  would  also  seem  that  a  certain   con- 

Hindu  Pa7itJieisin. 


sclousness  of  an  ultimate  unity  underlying  the 
worshipped  powers  and  persons  —  of  a  common 
Divine  source,  of  which  they  were  the  issues  and 
expressions — was  never  entirely  extruded  or  ex- 
tinguished by  the  polytheism  of  either  of  these 
two  stages.  It  was  in  greatest  danger,  perhaps, 
of  being  lost  under  the  latter,  when  imagination 
was  actively  creating  anthropomorphic  deities;  but 
even  then  the  craving  of  mind  and  heart  after  unity 
was  seen  in  the  exaltation  of  some  one  of  the  gods 
to  supremacy.  This  led,  however,  only  to  self- 
contradiction  and  confusion ;  now  one  god,  and 
now  another — now  Varuna,  now  Indra,  now  Agni 
— being  represented  and  revered  as  the  highest,  or 
even  the  absolute,  deity.  With  the  rise  and  pre- 
dominance of  a  cultured,  thoughtful,  speculative 
class,  the  priestly  class,  a  more  elevated,  abstract, 
and  comprehensive  unity  was  conceived  of — Brah- 
ma. The  idea  of  Brahma  is  that  of  a  being  inde- 
finable in  itself,  but  perceptible*  in  its  forms,  the 
substantial  reality  of  all  that  exists,  the  universal 
life  in  which  the  world  is  absorbed  and  from  which 
it  issues.  This  idea  was  the  natural  result  of  the 
whole  course  of  religious  thought  represented  in 
the  Vedas,  although  in  the  Vedas  it  is  only  found 
in  a  quite  rudimentary  condition.  All  subsequent 
Hindu  speculation,  however,  contributed  either 
directly  or  indirectly  to  evolve  it.  To  explain  in 
detail  how  and  why,  would  be  to  write  the  longest 

344  Auti-Theistic  Theories. 

and  most  important  chapter  in  the  history  of  Hin- 
du civilisation.  In  what  we  may  call  the  straight 
hne  of  development  lie  the  works  which  may  be 
regarded  as  the  sources  and  authorities  of  the 
philosophy  which  is  generally  admitted  to  have 
most  fully  deduced  the  conclusions  implied  in  the 
Vedas,  and  which  is  undoubtedly  the  completest 
expression  of  Hindu  pantheism — the  Vedanta  phil- 
osophy. The  chief  stages  of  the  growth  of  this 
philosophy  out  of  its  Vedic  germ,  can  be  traced  by 
the  help  of  the  literary  documents  with  consider- 
able certainty;  but  I  can,  of  course,  merely  indi- 
cate the  general  character  of  its  doctrine. 

The  central  idea  in  the  Vedanta  theory  is,  that 
there  is  only  one  real  being,  and  that  this  being 
is  absolutely  one.  All  material  things  and  finite 
minds  are  conceived  of  as  but  emanations  from 
the  sole  entity,  and  all  that  seems  to  imply  inde- 
pendent existence  is  referred  to  ignorance.  The 
whole  of  science  is  comprised,  according  to  Vedant- 
ism,  in  the  one  formula — **  Brahma  alone  exists ; 
everything  else  is  illusion."  The  truth  of  this 
formula  is  held  to  be  implied  in  the  very  idea  of 
Brahma,  as  the  one  eternal,  unlimited,  pure,  and 
perfect  being.  If  there  existed  a  multitude  of 
realities  which  had  an  origin  and  an  end,  which 
were  finite,  compounded,  and  imperfect,  they  must 
have  originated  in  Brahma.  But  this  they  could 
not  have  done,  it  is  argued,  unless  Brahma  had 

Hiiidn  PantJieism.  345 

within  himself  the  real  principle  of  multiplicity, 
limitation;  or,  in  other  words,  unless  he  were  really 
not  one,  not  eternal,  not  perfect.  To  ascribe  real 
being  and  individuality  to  anything  but  Brahma, 
is  equivalent  to  denying  that  Brahma  is  Brahma. 
Nor  can  there  be  any  qualities  and  distinctions 
in  Brahma.  The  absolute  unity  must  be  at  once 
absolute  reality  and  absolute  knowledge.  Were 
absolute  being  and  absolute  knowing  not  identi- 
cal, there  could  be  no  absolute  identity,  no  being 
absolutely  one.  Brahma,  the  universal  soul,  is  the 
absolute  knowledge  which  is  inclusive  of,  and  self- 
identical  with,  reality.  But  absolute  knowledge 
cannot  be  the  knowledge  of  anything,  for  this  im- 
plies the  distinction  of  subject  and  object,  which  is 
of  itself  a  limitation  both  of  subject  and  object. 
Absolute  knowledge  must  exclude  the  dualism  of 
subject  and  object,  and  every  kind  of  synthesis 
and  relation. 

Thus  argues  the  Vedantist.  What  are  we  to 
think  of  his  argument }  Merely  that  it  is  logi- 
cally valid.  It  deduces  correctly  a  false  conclusion 
from  a  false  principle.  He  who  will  hold  to  the 
belief  in  an  absolute  abstract  unity  must  neces- 
sarily identify  knowing  and  being,  and  deny  that 
pure  knowing  admits  of  a  distinction  between 
subject  and  object.  But  such  a  unity  as  this 
cannot  be  reasonably  entertained  by  the  mind. 
To  ask   reason   to  start  from   it,  is  to  ask    it  to 

34^  Aiiti-TJicistic  Theories. 

start  with  a  contradiction  of  its  own  fundamental 
laws.  Besides,  no  kind  of  multiplicity  or  diversity 
can  ever  be  shown  to  be  consistent  with  such  unity. 
The  existence  in  some  sense,  however,  of  a  multi- 
tude of  different  things,  cannot  be  denied  and  must 
be  accounted  for.  We  perceive  a  variety  of  separ- 
ate finite  objects  and  are  conscious  of  imperfection 
and  limitation  in  ourselves.  We  do  not  perceive 
an  infinite  unity  which  is  neither  subject  nor 
object,  and  which  is  perfect  and  unlimited,  nor 
are  we  conscious  of  identity  with  it.  How  are 
we  to  explain  this  on  the  Vedantist  hypothesis  1 
How  are  we  to  reconcile  the  reason  which  denies 
with  the  consciousness  which  afiirms  distinctions 
and  limitations  t  How  are  we  to  connect  the  one 
and  the  many,  the  absolute  and  the  relative  } 

The  hypothesis  of  emanation  may  be  had  re- 
course to,  but  it  is  obviously  insufficient.  Emana- 
tion is  a  physical  process,  and  only  possible  be- 
cause matter  is  essentially  multiple  and  divisible. 
The  fire  sends  forth  sparks  just  because  it  is  no 
unity  but  a  multitude — an  aggregate.  The  sparks 
are  not  identical  either  with  one  another  or  with 
the  fire ;  they  and  all  other  parts  of  the  fire  are 
distinct  from  one  another,  although  all  the  parts 
are  of  the  same  sort.  The  notion  of  emanation 
and  the  notion  of  absolute  unity  are  exclusive 
of  each  other.  The  Vedantists  saw  this,  and  con- 
fessed that  all  the  similes  which  they  made  use 

Hindu  Pantheism  347 

of  drawn  from  instances  of  emanation  in  physical 
nature  were  radically  defective.  They  claimed  no 
more  for  them  than  that  they  might  help  intelli- 
gence in  what  they  described  as  its  dream-state, 
to  believe  that  nothing  exists  except  Brahma.  In 
other  words,  they  admitted  that  these  similes  were 
addressed,  not  to  the  reason,  but  to  the  imagina- 
tion. Hence  it  was  necessary  for  them  to  supple- 
ment the  hypothesis  of  emanation  by  another — 
that  of  illusion  caused  by  ignorance. 

The  problem  which  they  had  to  solve  was  to 
reconcile  their  theory  of  only  one  being  with  their 
consciousness  of  many  beings.  It  was  a  problem 
which  they  could  not  solve,  but  they  so  far  con- 
cealed their  failure  to  solve  it  by  making,  as  Dr 
Ballantyne  has  said,  "the  fact  itself  do  duty  for 
its  own  cause."  The  soul  does  not  know  that  God 
alone  is,  and  that  finite  souls  and  finite  things  are 
not,  because  it  does  not  know  it — because  it  is 
ignorant.  Were  it  not  for  ignorance  the  worlds 
of  sense  and  consciousness  would  not  appear  — 
God  alone  would  be.  It  is  ignorance  which  has 
made  the  appearances  that  we  call  \vorlds  and 
souls,  and  these  appearances  are  mere  illusions — 
deceits.  They  are  maya.  It  is  impossible,  of 
course,  to  find  any  satisfaction  in  such  an  hypo- 
thesis. Who  is  it  that  Brahma  is  deceiving } 
Himself.  Why  should  he  do  that.?  And  how 
can   he    do    it  t     I<7norance   and   illusion  are    im- 

348  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

plied  in  our  consciousness  of  the  world  and  of 
self  being  false,  but  they  are  not  implied  in,  nor 
even  consistent  with,  its  being  true  that  there  is 
no  being  save  one  absolute  and  perfect  being. 
The  latter  supposition  precludes  the  possibility 
of  ignorance,  appearance,  illusion,  &c.  The  Ve- 
dantists,  however,  could  not  dispense  with  igno- 
rance and  illusion.  It  was  only  thus  that  they 
could  seem  to  adhere  to  their  absolute  unity.  It 
was  only  in  the  state  of  illusion  that  they  could 
think  of  Brahma,  and  only  with  the  help  even 
of  very  material  imagery  that  they  could  speak 
of  him. 

I  might  now  proceed  to  explain  the  Vedanta 
theory  of  the  three  qualities  of  ignorance,  which, 
separately  or  in  combination,  obscure  the  know- 
ledge which  constitutes  the  essence  of  the  soul  ; 
and  of  its  two  powers,  the  one  originating  belief 
in  our  consciousness  of  personality,  and  the  other 
accounting  for  the  dream  that  there  is  an  external 
world.  I  might  also  dwell  on  the  Vedanta  theory 
of  the  nature  and  laws  of  the  evolution  of  phe- 
nomena. The  transformations  of  Brahma,  of  which 
the  evolution  consists,  are  supposed  to  take  place 
according  to  both  a  diminishing  and  an  increasing 
progression,  the  former  being  from  more  to  less 
perfect,  and  the  latter  from  less  to  more  definite. 
I  am  compelled,  however,  to  leave  unconsidered 
these  and  other  portions  of  the  system,  and  must 

Hindu  PcDitJicisni.  349 

content  myself  with  merely  stating  that  the  theory 
of  human  life  and  destiny,  based  on  the  view  of 
God  and  nature  which  has  been  delineated,  is  just 
that  which  we  should  have  anticipated.  The  end 
of  man  is  regarded  as  the  perfect  repose  which 
must  result  from  union  with  the  absolute.  It  is 
held  to  be  only  attainable  through  the  science 
which  is  comprised  in  the  formula  —  "one  only 
without  a  second."  The  way  to  reach  true  science 
is  maintained  to  be  meditation  on  Revelation,  with 
renunciation  of  the  world  and  pious  dispositions 
and  exercises.  The  effects  of  it  are  described  as 
freedom  from  ignorance,  error,  the  possibility  of 
sin,  desire,  activity,  transmigration,  and  change. 
Whoever  knows  Brahma  becomes  Brahma.  He 
is  freed  from  the  illusion  that  he  has  any  distinct 
personal  existence.  He  shakes  off  pleasure  and 
pain,  virtue  and  vice,  all  distinctions  and  qualities. 
He  returns  into  the  essence  whence  he  came,  and 
attains  the  highest  identity.  In  a  word,  from  the 
pantheism  of  the  Vedanta  philosophy,  all  its  chief 
consequences  are  deduced  with  a  boldness  and 
consistency  which  justify  its  claim  to  be  regarded 
as  among  the  greatest  systems  to  which  specula- 
tion has  given  birth. 

In  the  pantheism  of  the  Vedanta  doctrine  the 
finite  is  lost  in  the  infinite.  Along  with  the  affir- 
mation of  an  impersonal  God  there  is  the  negation 
of  the  reality  of  the  worlds,  both  of  sense  and  con- 

350  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

sciousness.  In  other  words,  the  issue  of  this  kind 
of  pantheism  is  acosmism.  But  pantheism  is  just 
as  Hkely  to  issue  in  atheism.  Those  who  are 
determined  to  reach  an  absolute  unity,  while  yet 
feeUng  constrained  to  admit  that  physical  objects 
and  finite  minds  have  a  veritable  existence,  must 
sacrifice  the  infinite  to  the  finite — God  to  nature, — 
must  represent  God  as  an  abstraction  and  nullity. 
From  this  virtual  atheism  there  is  but  a  step  to 
avowed  atheism.  The  Sankhya  philosophy  and 
Buddhism  are  the  Hindu  exemplifications  of  this 
tendency  of  pantheistic  speculation.^ 

From  India  let  us  pass  on  to  Greece.  In  India 
philosophy  as  a  rule  rests  on  the  Vedas.  Its  sys- 
tems are  classed  as  orthodox  or  heterodox.  Hence 
Hegel  has  aptly  compared  the  Hindu  to  the  scho- 
lastic systems,  as  being  systems  of  philosophy 
within  systems  of  theology.  Even  the  Sankhya 
system,  which  can  hardly  be  said  to  acknowledge 
the  authority  of  the  Vedas,  and  which  is  really 
atheistical  in  character,  yet  proposes  to  itself  for 
final  aim  a  religious  end,  the  securing  of  salva- 
tion to  man,  and  recommends  the  pursuit  of  truth 
only  as  a  means  to  that  end.  In  Greece  it  was 
otherwise.  Philosophy  there  had  from  the  first 
a  sort  of  consciousness  of  a  function  of  its  own. 
It  invoked  no  anterior  or  supernatural  authority. 
The  influence  of  religion  upon   it  was  real   and 

1  See  Appendix  XXXV. 

Greek  PantJieisiii.  351 

considerable,  but  indirect  and  secondary.  It  was 
content  to  trust  entirely  in  reason,  and  to  aim  at 
nothing  beyond  truth. 

All  the  pre  -  Socratic  schools  of  Greek  philos- 
ophy, with  the  exception  of  that  of  Democritus, 
were  more  or  less  pantheistic  ;  but  only  in  the 
Eleatic  philosophy  does  early  Greek  pantheism 
appear  fully  developed.  It  bears  a  most  strijting 
resemblance  to  the  Vedanta  theory.  Almost  all 
that  is  needed  to  convert  Vedanta  doctrine  into 
Eleatic  doctrine  is  to  substitute  the  word  Being 
for  the  word  Brahma.  The  more  closely  I  have 
examined  and  compared  the  two  systems,  the 
more  I  have  been  impressed  with  this  truth  ;  and 
yet  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  one  system  was 
as  thoroughly  Greek  as  the  other  was  thoroughly 

The  Eleatic  philosophy  was  founded  by  Xeno- 
phanes,  and  brought  to  perfection  by  Parmenides. 
I  shall  state  very  briefly  its  leading  principles  as 
taught  by  the  latter.  His  cardinal  principle  is 
the  opposition  of  being  and  appearance,  truth  and 
opinion,  reason  and  sense.  To  being  corresponds 
reason  ;  to  appearance,  sense.  Reason  apprehend- 
ing being  is  truth  ;  sense  apprehending  appearance 
is  opinion.  Being  and  appearance,  reason  and 
sense,  truth  and  opinion,  are  essentially  irrecon- 
cilable and  contradictory.  All  truth  belongs  to 
reason,  which  alone  can  apprehend  being.     There 

352  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

is  no  truth  in  sense ;  and  the  credit  which  men 
attach  to  its  testimony  is  merely  a  proof  of  their 
tendency  to  follow  "  the  road  of  appearance,  where 
nought  but  fallacy  reigneth."  Parmenides  had  the 
courage  to  challenge  the  authority  of  external  im- 
pressions, and  of  all  reasoning  from  them,  and  dis- 
tinctly to  deny  that  material  things  exist  as  we 
see  them,  or  need  exist  at  all  because  we  believe 
that  we  see  them.  So  far  as  the  senses  and  their 
objects  were  concerned,  he  was  an  avowed  sceptic. 
His  scepticism,  however,  was  a  means,  and  not  an 
end.  He  denied,  and  laboured  to  destroy,  the 
authority  of  sense,  but  only  in  order  to  afhrm  and 
establish  the  authority  of  reason.  He  desired 
that  reason  should  rule  without  a  rival.  His  phil- 
osophy was,  therefore,  essentially  not  scepticism, 
but  dogmatic  idealism.  It  rested  on  reason  alone, 
and  on  reason  understood  in  the  strictest,  narrow^- 
est,  most  exclusive  manner — on  reason  reduced  to 
a  single  idea,  and  expressed  in  a  single  truth. 

What  was  the  truth  which  he  regarded  as  the 
one  truth,  the  whole  truth  }  It  was  this  :  *'  Being 
is,  and  cannot  but  be  ;  not-being  is  not,  and  can- 
not be.  One  can  affirm  everything  of  being,  and 
nothing  of  not-being."  He  started  where  his  pre- 
decessor, Xenophanes,  ended.  Xenophanes  passed 
from  the  thought  of  God  to  the  thought  of  abso- 
lute being  ;  Parmenides  began  with  absolute  being. 
He  was  quite  aware  of  the  sort  of  contradiction 

Greek  Pantheism.  353 

involved  in  saying  at  one  and  the  same  time,  "  not- 
being  is  not,  and  cannot  be,"  and  "  one  can  affirm  no- 
thing of  not-being."  He  felt  that  he  had  to  speak 
so  because  the  very  notion  of  not-being  is  a  contra- 
diction, and  all  speech  about  it  must  be  a  contra- 
diction. "One  can  neither  know  not-being,"  he 
said,  "  nor  express  it  in  words :  for  it  has  in  it 
no  possibility  of  being."  His  not-being  did  not 
mean  non-existence,  but  all  that  sense  and  ordi- 
nary thought  apprehend  as  existence  ;  it  included 
earth,  air,  ocean,  and  the  minds  of  men.  The 
whole  multiple  and  divisible  universe  was  what  he 
held  to  be  the  not-being,  which  is  to  reason  a  con- 
tradiction so  great  that  it  is  impossible  even  to 
speak  of  it  in  a  rational  manner.  His  "what  is 
not  is  not"  was  not  a  truism,  but  a  paradox. 

In  deducing  a  doctrine  of  being,  Parmenides 
displayed  great  speculative  boldness  and  ability. 
I  can  merely  state  the  results  at  which  he  arrived. 
1°,  Being,  he  argued,  is  absolutely  one.  It  is  not 
an  abstract  unity,  but  the  only  reality.  It  so  is 
that  it  alone  is.  2°,  Being,  he  further  affirmed,  is 
continuous  and  indivisible  ;  it  is  everywhere  like 
to  itself,  -and  everywhere  alike  present.  Were 
there  parts  in  being  there  would  be  plurality,  and 
being  would  not  be  one — that  is,  would  not  be 
being.  There  can  be  no  differences  or  distinctions 
in  being  ;  for  what  is  different  and  distinct  from 
being  must  be   not-being,  and  not-being   is    not. 


354  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

3°,  Being,  he  also  maintained,  is  incapable  of 
change  or  motion  in  space.  It  cannot  exist  either 
in  a  state  of  rest  or  movement  analogous  to  the 
rest  and  movement  of  the  material  world.  We 
conceive  of  bodies  only  as  in  space,  and  of  their 
changes  only  as  changes  of  their  parts  relative  to 
different  points  of  space  ;  but  absolute  being  has 
no  parts  with  relations  to  the  different  points  of 
what  is  called  space.  Bodies  and  their  parts,  space 
and  its  points,  are  mere  appearances,  with  which  true 
being  has  nothing  in  common.  4°,  Being,  he  further 
argued,  is  immobile  in  time.  It  can  have  neither 
birth  nor  destruction,  past  nor  future.  5°,  Being  was 
affirmed  by  him  to  be  perfect — itself  alone  an  end 
or  limit  to  itself.  6°,  Being,  he  likewise  held — 
anticipating  Hegel  as  he  had  anticipated  Kant — 
is  identical  with  thought.  It  could  not  otherwise 
be  absolutely  one.  "  Thought,"  he  said,  "  is  the 
same  thing  as  being.  Thought  must  be  being ; 
for  being  exists,  and  non-being  is  nothing."  And 
again,  ''  But  thought  is  identical  with  its  object ; 
for  without  being,  on  which  it  rests,  you  will  not 
find  thought — nothing,  in  fact,  is  or  will  be  dis- 
tinct from  being." 

Parmenides,  you  will  perceive,  was  not  a  man 
easily  daunted.  Pantheism  has  rarely  been  more 
consistent  and  complete  than  it  was  in  his  hands. 
The  world  was  as  entirely  lost  in  his  Being  as  in  the 
Vedantist  Brahma.  But  as  in  India,  so  in  Greece, 
there  was  a  pantheism  of  a  contrary  kind — one  in 

Greek  Pantheism.  355 

which  unity  was  virtually  lost  in  multiplicity,  the 
absolute  in  the  phenomenal.  Perhaps  the  Hera- 
clitean  doctrine  was  the  best  example  presented 
by  the  history  of  Greek  philosophy  of  a  pan- 
theism of  this  kind.  Heraclitus,  having  sought  in 
vain  for  any  permanent  principle,  for  any  abso- 
lute being,  was  led  to  maintain  that  the  universe 
is  merely  a  process  of  incessant  change  ;  that  its 
essence  is  not  being,  but  becoming  ;  that  fire  per- 
vaded by  intelligence  is  its  universal  ground  and 
fittest  symbol ;  and  that  the  human  mind  is  a 
portion  of  the  all-pervasive  mind,  and  can  only 
attain  truth  through  communion  with  it. 

With  Socrates  and  Plato  the  course  of  spec- 
ulation took,  on  the  whole,  a  theistic  direction. 
In  Aristotle  it  tended  rather  towards  pantheism. 
Stoicism  was  originally  and  predominantly  a  ma- 
terialistic or  hylozoic  form  of  pantheism;  but  some 
of  its  greatest  representatives  conceived  of  God  in 
a  decidedly  theistic  manner  as  the  supreme  moral 
reason.  In  stoicism  everything  was  subordinated 
to  morality,  and  only  its  ethics  was  sublime.  Its 
theology  was  crude  and  confused,  and  I  pass  over 
it  without  regret.^ 


Christianity  did  not  arrest  the  progress  of  pan- 
theism  as  it   did   that  of  materialism.      On   the 

See  Appendix  XXXVL 

356  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

contrary,  it  seemed  to  stimulate  and  increase  its 
activity.  In  the  second,  third,  fourth,  and  fifth 
centuries  of  our  era  there  was  a  vast  amount  of 
pantheistic  speculation  influenced  by  and  influ- 
encing Christianity,  sometimes  directly  opposing 
it,  sometimes  endeavouring  to  incorporate  its  doc- 
trines and  establish  them  on  a  philosophical  basis, 
and  sometimes  claiming  to  be  identical  with  it  and 
entitled  to  its  authority.  I  need  only  remind  you 
of  the  Gnostic  systems,  and  of  the  Neo-Platonic 
philosophy  of  Alexandria.  When  Gnosticism  and 
Neo-Platonism  seemed  to  be  vanquished  and  de- 
stroyed, they  were,  in  reality,  merely  transformed. 
They  entered  into  Judaism  with  the  Cabbala,  and 
into  Christianity  with  the  writings  of  the  so-called 
Dionysius  the  Areopagite.  On  the  threshold  of 
the  middle  ages  a  very  remarkable  man— John 
Scott  Erigena — made  a  most  vigorous  and  elabo- 
rate attempt  to  reconcile  and  combine  a  panthe- 
istic philosophy  and  the  doctrine  of  the  Christian 
Church,  on  the  assumption  that  philosophy  and 
religion  are  substantially  one — philosophy  veiled 
in  the  form  of  tradition  being  religion,  and  religion 
unveiled  from  the  form  of  tradition  by  reason 
being  philosophy.  He  explained  Scripture  as  the 
symbolic  self-manifestation  of  the  absolute,  and 
gave  ingenious  speculative  expositions  of  the 
Trinity,  the  creation  of  the  world  and  of  man,  the 
incarnation  of  the  Logos,  &c.,  according  to  prin- 

Medie  val  PantJieism.  357 

ciples  derived  from  Plotinus  and  Proclus,  Origeii 
and  Maximus  the  Confessor,  and  especially  the 
pseudo-Dionysius.  The  latest  English  historian 
of  pantheism  tells  us  that  there  was  little  or  no 
pantheism  in  the  middle  ages.  This  is  about  as 
accurate  as  it  would  be  to  say  that  there  are  no 
Methodists  at  present  in  England  or  Ultramon- 
tanists  in  France.  Pantheism  was  prevalent  all 
throuL;h  the  middle  ages  ;  and  medieval  pan- 
theism, unlike  modern  pantheism,  was  not  con- 
fined to  speculative  individuals,  but  was  adopted 
by  considerable  communities — the  Beghards  and 
Beguines,  the  Brothers  and  Sisters  of  the  Free 
Spirit,  the  Turlupins,  the  Adamites,  the  Familists, 
the  Spiritual  Libertines,  &c.  This  popular  pan- 
theism was  partly  due  to  the  persistence  of  the 
ancient  pagan  spirit  among  the  uneducated  masses, 
and  partly  to  reaction  from,  the  externality  and 
formalism  which  characterised  medieval  Christi- 
anity. It  died  away  before  the  light  of  the 
Reformation,  owing  to  Protestantism  giving  to 
the  religious  instincts  of  the  people  a  satisfaction 
which  Romanism  denied  to  them. 

In  the  year  1600  the  brilliant  inaugurator  of 
modern  pantheism,  Jordano  Bruno,  was  burned 
at  Rome.  His  bold,  teeming,  imaginative  mind, 
susceptible  to  the  most  varied  influences,  origin- 
ated a  grandiose  system,  rich  in  its  elements  and 
vast  in   its   scope,  but   devoid   of  self-consistency, 

358  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

method,  and  proof.  It  combined  without  harmon- 
ising the  Eleatic,  Neo  -  Platonic,  and  naturalistic 
pantheisms ;  naturalism  being  perhaps  predomi- 
nant, owing  to  the  powerful  hold  which  the  dis- 
coveries of  Copernicus,  and  the  idea  of  an  infinity 
of  worlds,  had  taken  of  the  author's  mind.  Bruno 
was  the  precursor  of  Spinoza,  by  whom  his  writ- 
ings were  carefully  studied.^ 

Baruch  Spinoza  (1632-77)  is  the  most  celebrated 
of  all  pantheists,  and  I  must  delineate  as  dis- 
tinctly as  I  can  within  the  narrow  limits  to  which 
I  am  confined  his  theory  of  God,  and  of  the  rela- 
tion of  God  to  the  universe.  It  is  a  theory  which 
was  drawn  from  a  multitude  of  sources  —  the 
Talmud,  the  Cabbala,  Maimonides,  Ben  Gerson, 
Chasdai  Creskas,  Bruno,  Descartes,  &c. — which 
was  slowly  and  gradually  developed,  and  which 
passed  through  various  phases  in  its  author's  mind 
before  it  was  elaborated  into  the  shape  which  it 
assumed  in  the  last  and  greatest  of  his  works,  the 
*  Ethica.'  It  is  in  its  final  form  that  we  must  look 
at  it. 

Thinking  philosophy  ought  to  be  purely  deduc- 
tive— ought  to  start  from  a  single  point  fixed  by 
the  necessities  of  reason,  and  be  carried  on  by 
sheer  force  of  logic  in  the  form  of  a  continuous 
demonstration  to  all  its  consequences — Spinoza 
very  naturally,  and  had  his  supposition  been  cor- 

1  See  Appendix  XXXVII. 

Spifioza.  359 

rect,  very  justly,  imagined  that  the  order  of  know- 
ledge must  be  the  same  as  the  order  of  existence. 
What  is  first  in  reality  must,  he  thought,  be  first 
in  science.  So  he  began  with  God,  the  first,  the 
self-existent  Being.  This,  however,  cannot  but 
be  a  stumbling-block  to  all  who  believe  that  the 
inductive  process  is  that  of  philosophy,  or  even 
that  philosophy  has  to  take  account  of  the  results 
of  the  inductive  sciences.  In  all  inductive  science, 
principles  which  are  first  in  the  order  of  nature 
are  last  in  the  order  of  intelligence.  It  is  only  in 
mathematical  science  that  first  principles  are  first 
in  the  order  both  of  nature  and  intelligence.  All, 
therefore,  who  cannot  admit  that  philosophy  is 
mathematical  or  demonstrative  science — who  ac- 
knowledge that  unity  is  her  goal  or  aim,  but  deny 
that  it  is  her  starting-point — will  feel  that  Spinoza 
has  begun  at  the  wrong  end,  however  natural  it 
may  have  been  for  him  to  begin  at  that  end. 

His  doctrine  of  the  Divine  nature  is  unfolded  in 
a  series  of  thirty-seven  propositions,  all  professedly 
demonstrated,  and  many  of  them  having  corol- 
laries and  scholia.  This  series  of  propositions  is 
prefaced  by  eight  definitions  and  seven  axioms. 
Most  of  the  axioms  look  very  innocent,  but  they 
are  not  as  innocent  as  they  look.  There  seems  to 
be  no  danger  in  assenting  to  such  an  affirmation 
as  "All  that  is,  is  either  in  itself,  or  in  some  thing 
other  than  itself,"  which  is  axiom  first ;  but  danger 

3^0  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

there  is  ;  and  you  will  find  this  axiom  used  under 
proposition  sixth  to  prove  that  there  is  nothing  in 
the  universe  but  substance  and  the  affections  of 
substance;  under  proposition  fifteenth,  to  prove 
that  thought  and  extension  are  either  attributes 
of  God,  or  modes  of  His  attributes ;  and  so  in 
many  other  places,  precisely  as  if  there  was  only 
one  way  of  being  in  a  thing,  or  as  if  in  denoted  a 
particular  kind  of  inherence.  It  seems  quite  safe 
to  assent  to  a  statement  like  this,  "  Whatever  can 
be  thought  of  as  non- existing  does  not  in  its 
essence  involve  existence,"  but  no ;  it  is  true  only 
if  it  is  the  truism.  Whatever  can  be  thought  of  as 
non-existing  need  not  be  thought  of  as  existing ; 
whereas  it  is  not  so  understood,  but  in  application 
is  made  to  do  duty  for  the  very  different  affirma- 
tion. What  can  be  conceived  of  as  existing  in  its 
essence  involves  existence,  so  as  to  conceal  in 
some  measure  one  great  failure  of  the  system — 
its  inability  to  establish  that  the  notions  it  deals 
with  answer  to  what  really  exists. 

The  definitions,  unlike  the  axioms,  present 
difificulties  which  almost  every  one  who  reads 
them  in  some  measure  feels.  Spinoza  had  given 
them  many  an  altering  touch  to  bring  them  into 
the  form  which  they  bear  in  the  Ethics,  as  he 
always  found  that,  although  they  seemed  to  him 
the  simplest  and  most  self-evident  truths,  his 
friends  felt  it  difficult  to  accept,  or  even  to  under- 

Spinoza.  361 

stand  them.  I  have  no  time  to  examine  these 
definitions  of  "cause  of  itself,"  "the  finite  in  its 
kind,"  "substance,"  "attribute,"  "mode,"  "God," 
"  free  and  necessary,"  "  eternity  ; "  but  I  must  enter 
my  decided  protest  against  the  opinion  expressed 
by  Mr  Lewes  and  others,  that  no  criticism  of  them 
is  needed,  since  they  are  definitions  of  terms. 
"  They  need  not,"  says  Mr  Lewes,  "  long  be  dwelt 
on,  although  frequently  referred  to  by  Spinoza  ; 
above  all,  no  objection  ought  to  be  raised  against 
them  as  unusual  or  untrue,  for  they  are  the  mean- 
ings of  various  terms  in  constant  use  with  Spinoza, 
and  he  has  a  right  to  use  them  as  he  pleases,  pro- 
vided he  does  not  afterwards  depart  from  this  use, 
which  he  is  careful  not  to  do."  Well,  no  doubt 
Spinoza  had  so  far  a  right  to  define  the  terms  he 
intended  to  use  as  he  pleased,  on  condition  of 
keeping  strictly  to  his  definitions,  but  he  may  also 
have  abused  his  right.  Euclid  might  have  called 
the  circle  a  square  and  the  square  a  circle,  might 
have  interchanged  the  names  of  line  and  surface 
and  solid,  yet  defined  them  all  correctly,  and  rea- 
soned on  them  all  correctly ;  but  it  would  have 
been  a  very  unwise  thing  in  him  to  have  thus 
severed  and  opposed  the  popular  and  scientific 
use  of  these  terms,  and  would  have  led  to  much 
confusion  even  in  mathematics.  Now  Spinoza 
has  done  something  not  very  different  from  this 
in  his   definitions   of  "substance,"  "mode,"  ''free 

362  Anti-Thcistic  Theories. 

and  necessary,"  and  "eternity."  Further,  if  we 
may  not  object  to  a  man's  definitions  of  terms 
as  unusual  or  untrue,  we  certainly  may  object  to 
them  if  obscure,  if  ambiguous,  if  self-contradictory, 
if  definitions  of  the  inherently  absurd.  If  Euclid's 
definition  of  a  circle,  for  example,  had  been  diffi- 
cult to  understand,  or  if  it  had  been  as  true  of  a 
square  as  of  a  circle,  or  if  he  had  offered  us  a  defi- 
nition of  a  square  circle,  or  of  parallel  lines  that 
meet,  we  should  have  had  abundance  of  reason 
to  object.  And  obscurity,  ambiguity,  self-contra- 
diction, are  just  the  charges  which  will  be  brought 
against  such  definitions  as  those  which  Spinoza 
gives  of  "cause  of  itself"  and  "substance."  As  to 
the  statement  that  he  was  careful  not  to  depart  from 
that  use  of  his  terms  which  he  prescribed  to  him- 
self by  his  definitions,  I  have  no  doubt  that  he  was 
careful — that  he  did  his  best — being  thoroughly 
honest  and  sincere,  anxious  to  deceive  no  one, 
anxious  not  to  deceive  himself;  but  I  have  as 
little  doubt  that  with  all  his  care  he  was  not  suc- 
cessful, and  that  his  use  of  terms  was  often  in- 
consistent with  his  definitions,  or  consistent  only 
through  the  ambiguity  of  the  definitions.  Nor 
could  he  help  himself.  A  man  who  reasoned  in 
geometry  from  definitions  of  square  circles  and 
parallel  lines  that  meet,  would  find  it  impossible 
to  be  consistent  in  his  use  of  terms  ;  scarcely  more 
possible  was  a  consistent  use  of  them  to  one  who 

Spinoza.  363 

started,  like  Spinoza,  with  definitions  of  "  cause  of 
itself"  and  "substance  in  itself." 

His  central  definition  is  that  of  God  :  "  God  is  a 
being  absolutely  infinite  ;  in  other  words,  God  is 
substance,  constituted  by  an  infinity  of  attributes, 
each  of  which  expresses  an  eternal  and  infinite 
essence."  This  is  presented  to  us  as  an  intuitive 
truth,  clear  and  certain  in  its  own  self- evidence, 
as  a  principle  on  which  we  may  safely  reason 
to  any  Jength,  with  the  conviction  of  knowing  as 
thoroughly  what  it  means  as  we  know  what  Euclid 
means  by  isosceles,  or  scalene,  or  right-angled  tri- 
angle. In  reality,  it  is  far  more  mysterious  than 
any  proposition  contained  in  the  creeds  of  the 
Church  respecting  the  Trinity  or  the  Incarnation. 
It  is  difficult  to  understand  how  Spinoza  could 
expect  that  men  would  receive  as  self-evident,  on 
the  bare  statement  of  it,  such  an  assertion  as  that 
"  God  is  substance  constituted  by  an  infinity  of 
attributes  ; "  or  how  he  could  overlook  that  if  sub- 
stance is  constituted  by  attributes  it  cannot  be 
what  he  himself  defines  it  to  be,  "  that  which  is  in 
itself,  and  is  conceived  by  itself,  or  that  the  concep- 
tion of  which  does  not  involve  the  conception  of 
anything  else  as  that  from  which  it  is  formed."  The 
definition  of  God  I  have  called  Spinoza's  central 
definition,  because  it  includes,  takes  up  into  itself,  the 
other  definitions.  There  occur  in  it,  you  will  have 
observed,  the  words  substance,  attribute,  infinite, 

364  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

eternal.  It  includes,  therefore,  directly,  the  defini- 
tions given  of  these  four  words.  It  includes  the 
word  "essence,"  which  should  have  been  defined 
here,  and  is  defined  in  part  second.  It  includes 
the  phrase  "absolutely  infinite,"  which  receives 
not  a  definition,  but  an  explanation  that  amounts 
to  a  definition.  The  only  definitions  which  it  does 
not  directly  include  are  those  of  "  cause  in  itself," 
"  free,"  and  "  mode ; "  but  the  two  former  are  so 
defined  as  to  be  identical  with  substance,  as  to  be 
substance  itself  in  two  aspects,  and  the  last  as 
an  affection  of  substance.  Directly  or  indirectly, 
therefore,  the  definition  of  God  includes  all  the 
other  definitions.  The  consequence  is  obvious. 
It  is  that,  directly  or  indirectly,  that  definition 
includes  all  that  is  obscure,  ambiguous,  self-con- 
tradictory, in  all  the  definitions.  It  is  a  guarantee 
that  whatever  there  is  of  this  kind  in  any  of  these 
definitions  will  be  worked  into  the  doctrine  of  the 
Divine  nature,  and  will  corrupt  that  doctrine. 

Spinoza  was  not  fortunate,  then,  at  the  com- 
mencement of  his  undertaking.  Was  he  more 
successful  afterwards?  Some  persons  think  so. 
Spinozism  has  been  pronounced  "a  faultless  de- 
monstration." This  is  far  from  my  opinion.  The 
paralogisms,  the  fallacies,  in  Spinoza  are,  I  believe, 
simply  countless,  because  he  started  with  vague 
and  ambiguous  principles  and  pursued  a  hopeless 
course.     Had  he  been  less  convinced  that  he  was 

Spinoza.  365 

right,  or  less  able,  he  would  have  been  stopped  at 
countless  points;  but  the  intense  and  honest  convic- 
tion of  being  right  could  not  make  him  to  be  right, 
and  no  ability  could  achieve  the  impossible. 

The  whole  of  his  doctrine  concerning  God  is  in 
germ  in  his  definition  of  God.  The  first  great  stage 
in  its  development  is  formed  by  the  attempted 
proof  of  the  identity  of  the  ideas  of  God  and  of 
substance.  The  notion  of  substance  defined,  as  has 
been  mentioned,  is  the  foundation  of  his  definition 
of  God,  of  his  entire  theological  doctrine,  of  his 
whole  philosophy.  A  less  solid  or  secure  founda- 
tion there  could  not  be.  Substance  in  itself,  which 
is  what  is  defined,  is  simply  what  no  human  mind 
has  ever  apprehended  or  can  apprehend.  Every 
attempt  to  define  substance  in  itself,  or  to  reason 
on  it,  must  be  repelled  as  a  violation  of  the  laws 
of  human  thought,  of  the  essential  limitations  of 
human  knowledge.  Spinozism  is  a  system  founded 
on  this  error.  Spinoza  had  the  firmest  conviction 
that  he  had  a  clear,  distinct,  and  true  idea  of 
substance  in  itself,  that  he  might  safely  trust  his 
fortunes  to  it,  and  that  all  that  he  could  infer  from 
it  by  strict  logic  would  be  eternal  verities,  certain 
as  anything  in  Euclid,  far  more  certain  than  mere 
experience  and  sense.  He  proceeded  accordingly 
to  demonstrate,  as  he  supposed,  such  propositions 
concerning  it  as  that  substance  is  prior  in  nature 
to  its  accidents  ;   that  two  substances  having  dif- 

366  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

ferent  attributes  have  nothing  in  common  with 
each  other ;  that  it  is  impossible  that  there  should 
be  two  or  more  substances  of  the  same  nature  or  of 
the  same  attribute  ;  that  one  substance  cannot  be 
created  by  another  substance  ;  that  to  exist  per- 
tains to  the  nature  of  substance ;  that  all  substance 
is  necessarily  infinite  ;  that  all  substance  is  abso- 
lutely infinite;  that  this  sole  and  singular  substance 
— this  absolutely  infinite  substance  —  is  God,  in 
whom  whatever  is  is,  without  whom  nothing  can 
be  conceived,  of  whom  all  that  is  must  be  some 
sort  of  attributes  or  modes.  Thus  he  gradually 
worked  out  the  conclusion  that  God  is  the  one 
and  all  of  substance,  beyond  which  there  is  noth- 
ing, and  in  which  all  that  is  has  such  being  as 
belongs  to  it 

The  second  great  stage  in  the  development  of 
his  doctrine  of  the  Divine  nature  is  the  deduction 
of  the  attributes  of  the  one  absolutely  infinite  sub- 
stance. An  attribute  is  defined  by  him  as  "what- 
ever the  intellect  perceives  of  substance  as  con- 
stituting the  essence  of  substance."  Substance 
and  attributes  are  inseparable.  Substance  has 
necessarily  attributes,  each  of  which  expresses  in 
its  own  way  the  essence  of  substance,  and  is  there- 
fore, as  that  essence  is,  infinite,  although  only  in 
its  own  way.  Substance  has  necessarily  even  an 
infinity  of  attributes,  for  it  is  absolutely  infinite,  and 
only  an  infinity  of  attributes  can  adequately  repre- 

Spinoza.  2,^y 

sent  a  nature  which  Is  not  only  Infinite  but  abso- 
lutely or  Infinitely  Infinite.  Out  of  this  Infinite 
number  of  attributes  two  only  are  known  to  us, — 
extension  and  thought.  God  Is  conceived  as  think- 
ing substance  when  He  Is  apprehended  by  the  mind 
under  the  attribute  of  thought,  and  as  extended 
substance  when  He  Is  conceived  under  the  attribute 
of  extension;  but  thinking  substance  and  extended 
substance  are  not  two  substances  distinct  from  one 
another,  but  the  one  substance  apprehended  by  the 
mind  of  man,  now  under  this  attribute,  now  under 
that.  Extension  as  a  Divine  attribute  Is,  accord- 
ing to  Spinoza,  very  difTerent  from  the  finite  ex- 
tension which  belongs  to  body :  it  has  no  length, 
bulk,  depth,  shape,  divisibility,  or  movability,  and 
in  referring  It  to  Deity  none  of  these  things  are 
referred  to  Him ;  It  is  Incapable  of  being  appre- 
hended by  sense  or  Imagination  ;  capable  only  of 
being  apprehended  by  reason.  Divine  thought  Is 
likewise  altogether  different  from  human  thought : 
it  is  absolute  thought — thought  which  has  infinite 
substance  itself  for  object ;  which  is  In  no  way 
limited  or  determined  ;  which  Is  unconditioned  by 
anything  like  a  faculty  of  understanding ;  which 
falls  under  no  law  of  succession,  separation,  or 

The  doctrine  has  still  another  stage.  Substance 
with  Its  attributes  is  God  as  the  cause  or  source 
of  the  universe.     But  what  is  the  universe  Itself.^ 

3^8  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

What  are  the  sun  and  stars,  earth  and  ocean  ? 
What  are  living  things,  human  bodies  and  human 
minds,  human  experience  and  human  history? 
They  are,  Spinoza  argues,  modes  of  the  attributes 
of  God.  Modes  express  the  essence  of  the  attri- 
butes as  the  attributes  express  the  essence  of 
substance.  The  modes  of  each  attribute  are  neces- 
sarily finite  in  nature,  because  an  attribute  is  not 
a  substance,  and  therefore  not  infinitely  infinite; 
but  they  are  necessarily  infinite  in  number,  because 
each  attribute  has  a  real  although  particular  in- 
finity. Infinite  thought  must  express  itself  by  an 
infinite  number  of  ideas,  and  infinite  extension 
by  an  infinite  variety  of  magnitudes,  forms,  and 
motions.  These  modes  constitute  and  compose  the 
whole  world  of  the  senses  and  the  whole  world  of 
consciousness.  Man  himself  is  but  a  combina- 
tion of  these  modes.  His  soul  is  a  mode  of  Di- 
vine thought,  and  his  body  is  a  mode  of  Divine 

I  think  this  doctrine  must  be  admitted  to  be 
devoid  neither  of  simplicity  nor  grandeur.  It  has 
certainly  been  constructed  with  wonderful  archi- 
tectonic skill.  God  is  the  one  and  all.  He  is  the 
infinitely  infinite,  the  only  substance.  From  this 
substance  necessarily  proceeds  an  infinity  of  par- 
ticular attributes.  From  each  attribute  necessarily 
proceeds  an  infinite  number  of  finite.  These  modes 
constitute  what  is  called  the  universe.     There  is 

Spinoza.  369 

nothing  which  is  not  necessarily  evolved  from,  and 
essentially  included  in,  God.  Of  course  this  is 
pantheism.  And  yet  it  is  very  easy  to  err  as  to 
where  the  pantheism  of  it  lurks,  as  a  i^w  remarks 
may  help  to  show. 

Take  the  first  stage  of  the  doctrine  which  has 
been  delineated.     Many  have  thought  that  when 
Spinoza  has  reached  the  conclusion  that  there  is 
only  one  substance,  and  that  God  is  that  substance, 
he  has  attained  the  completest  possible  pantheism. 
But  no  ;  pantheism  is  still,  properly  speaking,  far 
distant.     For  Spinoza  includes,  it  must  be  remem- 
bered, in  his  definition  of  substance,  as  the  very 
essence   of  what   he    means   by  it,  the   notion  of 
self-existence.     We  may  fairly  object  that  it  was 
injudicious  thus  to  give  the  word   a   meaning  so 
unusual ;  still,  of  course,  we  must  interpret  it  as  he 
was  pleased  to  employ  it.     Do  this,  however,  and 
manifestly  there  is  no  substance  but  God,  for  thefe 
is  no  other  self-existent  being.     Everything  else, 
everything  in  nature,  every  finite  mind,  exists  only 
through   another   than  itself,  exists  only  through 
God — i.e.,  is  not  a  Spinozistic  substance.     In  like 
manner,  the  proposition  that  one  substance  cannot 
be  produced  by  another  substance  has  been  repre- 
sented as  equivalent  to  a  denial  of  the  possibility 
and  reality  of  creation,  a  denial  of  the  very  first 
words  of  the  Bible, — "In  the  beginning  God  created 
the  heavens  and  the  earth."      But  again  there  is 
2  A 

3/0  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

obvious  misconception.  If  God  created  the  heavens 
and  the  earth,  the  heavens  and  the  earth  are  not 
self-existent — are  not,  according  to  Spinoza,  sub- 
stances. Spinoza  does  not  deny  that  God  pro- 
duced things,  but  that  He  produced  things  the 
essences  of  which  involve  existence.  What  he 
affirms  is,  that  God  is  not  only  the  cause  why 
things  begin  to  exist,  but  also  why  they  continue 
in  existence.  His  language  is  pantheistic  in  sound, 
but  had  he  adhered  strictly  to  his  own  definitions 
it  would  have  been  quite  consistent  with  theism  in 
signification.  Not  unnaturally,  however,  he  was 
the  dupe  of  his  own  language,  and  fancied  that  he 
disproved  the  possibility  of  creation  in  the  ordinary 
acceptation  of  the  doctrine. 

When  we  pass  to  his  theory  of  the  Divine  attri- 
butes we  find  that,  under  a  specious  appearance  of 
consistency,  it  is  so  incoherent  and  confused  that 
no  definite  designation  can  be  appropriately  at- 
tached to  it.  We  welcome  his  affirmation  that 
God  has  an  infinity  of  attributes  which  are  un- 
known to  us,  as  an  admission  that  God  in  infinite 
ways  transcends  the  powers  of  apprehension  pos- 
sessed by  finite  minds.  But  we  are  compelled  to 
ask,  Can  there  be  in  a  substance  which  is  abso- 
lutely one,  as  conceived  of  by  Spinoza,  any  attri- 
butes which  are  not  relative  to  minds  distinct  from 
that  substance  ?  Can  there  be  any  attributes  ob- 
jectively in  the  substance  itself.'*    If  the  answer  be 

Spinoza.  37 1 

in  the  negative — be  that  the  attributes  of  substance 
exist  only  for  minds,  or  arise  only  from  the  rela- 
tions of  substance  to  minds — substance  is  obviously 
not  the  absolute  and  comprehensive  unity  from 
which  all  proceeds,  but  implies,  yea,  presupposes 
the  existence  of  minds  which  are  distinct  from  it. 
It  becomes  impossible  to  regard  it  as  the  primary 
and  universal  existence,  apart  from  which  nothing 
is,  or  as  more  than  a  merely  secondary  and  par- 
ticular object  of  mind.  If  the  answer  be  in  the 
affirmative,  the  notion  of  substance  is  none  the  less 
displaced  and  destroyed.  The  unity  of  substance 
disappears,  for,  as  by  Spinoza's  express  declara- 
tion, each  attribute  is  essentially  distinct  from 
every  other,  the  substance  is  represented  as  an 
aggregation  of  distinct  and  irreducible  essences. 
The  whole  being  even  of  substance  disappears, 
for  the  attributes  must  exhaust  the  substance  of 
which  they  are  the  necessary  and  complete  ex- 
pression. The  absolute  substance  vanishes,  and 
in  its  place  appears  an  infinite  number  of  uncon- 
nected attributes. 

Of  these  attributes  Spinoza  professed  to  ex- 
plain only  two — extension  and  thought.  He  does 
so  on  the  ground  that  these  are  the  only  attri- 
butes of  which  the  human  understanding  has 
any  knowledge.  Yet  the  general  outcome  of  his 
argumentation  regarding  them  is  that  the  human 
understanding  has  virtually  no  knowledge  of  them. 

372  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

Because  he  said  that  God  is  extended,  some  have 
mferred  that  he  supposed   God  to  be  corporeal ; 
but  he  endeavoured  to  guard  himself  against  this 
error  by  denying  to   extension   everything  which 
characterises  body,  and  ascribing  to  it  a  number 
of  peculiarities  which  body  does  not  possess.     As 
to  thought,  he  maintained  that  thought  in  God  is 
of  an   entirely  different   nature  from   thought  in 
man — that  the  one  bears  no  more  resemblance  to 
the  other  than  the   dog,  a  sign  in  the  heavens, 
does  to  the  dog,  an  animal  which  barks.      Thus 
the  only  two  attributes  which   he   admits   to  be 
accessible  to  the  human  mind  he  also  represents 
as  really  inaccessible  to  it,  and  utterly  unlike  the 
extension  or  thought  of  which  we  have  any  ex- 
perience.     If  the   Divine  thought  have  no   more 
resemblance  to  human  thought  than  the  dog-star 
to  the  dog  that  barks,  we  have  no  knowledge  of 
the  former  whatever,  and  merely  deceive  ourselves 
when  we  call  it  thought  at  all.      This  so-called 
pantheism,  instead  of  helping  us  to  realise  that 
God  is  near  to  us,  practically  assures  us  that  God 
as  God,  as  natura  naturans,  is  unknowable  by  us, 
and,  in  fact,  that  there  is  no  God  who  can  be  a 
God  for  the  human  mind. 

At  the  third  stage  of  his  theory,  Spinoza  main- 
tains that  all  finite  things  are  modes  of  the  Divine 
attributes  of  the  one  Divine  substance.  No  lan- 
guage could  be  more  pantheistic  as  mere  language. 

Spinoza.  373 

But,  of  course,  it  must  be  remembered  that  by  con- 
fining the  name  of  substance  to  the  self-existent, 
self-subsistent,  he  had  condemned  himself  to  the 
use  of  pantheistic  language,  however  free  of  pan- 
theistic taint  his  thought  might  have  been.     He 
could  not  call  finite  things   substances  ;  he  must 
deny  them  to  be  substances.     What  could  he  call 
them  }     Once  you  agree  to  restrict  the  term  sub- 
stance to  what   is  absolute    and    self- existent,  it 
matters  comparatively  little  what  name  you  give 
to  that  which  is  relative  and  created.     If  you  call 
it  a   mode,  that  means  merely  that  it  is  derived 
from    and   dependent   on    what   is    self- existent. 
Spinoza's  language,  "all  finite  things  are  modes 
of  the  one  Divine  substance,"  means  no  more,  if 
strictly  interpreted,  than  that  all  finite  things  are 
derived  from,  and  dependent  on,  the  one  self-ex- 
istent Being.    Unfortunately,  however,  he  has  made 
it   impossible  for  us  thus  to  interpret  him.     His 
language  must  be  read  in  the  light  of  the  fact  that 
he  withholds  alike  from   the   substance   and   the 
modes — from  the  self-existent  Being  and  the  de- 
rivative  and   dependent  existences  —  freedom    of 
will,  true   personality.       He   affirms,   indeed,   that 
God  is  free ;  but  he  is  careful  to  explain  that  by 
free  he  really  means  necessary ;   that   Divine  lib- 
erty is  Divine  activity  necessarily  determined  by 
the  Divine  nature,  although  independent  of  any 
extraneous  cause.     He  also  expressed  his  belief 

374  Anti'TJieistic  Theories. 

in  the  Divine  personality,  even  when  admitting 
that  he  could  form  no  clear  conception  of  it,  but 
practically  he  ignored  It  In  his  theory.  The  result 
was  the  sacrifice  of  all  individual  lives,  of  all  per- 
sonal character  and  action,  of  all  freedom  and 
responsibility,  to  a  dead,  unintelligible,  fatalistic 
unity.  Spinoza  was  a  man  of  a  singularly  pure 
and  noble  nature,  yet  he  was  compelled  by  the 
force  of  logic  to  draw  from  his  pantheism  immoral 
and  slavish  consequences  which  would  speedily 
ruin  any  individual  or  nation  that  ventured  to 
adopt  them. 

It  would  not  have  been  difficult  to  draw  from 
it  atheism  itself.  That  was  certainly  not  what 
Spinoza  taught  or  meant  to  teach.  What  he  main- 
tained was,  that  the  Divine  existence  is  the  one 
true  existence,  and  that  the  whole  system  of  what 
we  call  nature  exists  only  through  connection  with 
it.  He  did  not  say  that  space,  as  we  understand 
space,  and  time,  in  the  sense  of  duration,  and  the 
worlds  which  are  in  space  and  time,  and  what 
these  worlds  contain,  are  all  that  there  is  ;  on  the 
contrary,  he  said  that,  besides  these  things,  there 
was  the  whole  universe  of  true  being — substance 
with  infinite  attributes  unknown  to  us,  and  with 
others  somewhat  known,  absolute  extension,  ab- 
solute eternity,  absolute  thought,  absolute  activ- 
ity.    None  the  less  did  his  idea  of  God  involve  the 

Spinozism.  375 

very  doctrine  to  which  it  seemed  to  be  the  contrary 
extreme.  If  the  absolute  substance  must  express 
itself  necessarily  and  completely  in  its  attributes, 
it  must  be  absorbed  and  exhausted  in  these  at- 
tributes ;  and  if  they  in  turn  must  necessarily  and 
completely  evolve  into  modes,  only  modes  will 
remain.  It  may  be  said  that  substance,  attributes, 
and  modes  are  eternally  distinct,  although  eter- 
nally connected ;  but  this  cannot  be  rationally 
thought  or  believed  if  absolute  activity  be  ne- 
cessary activity.  In  this  case  the  monism  of 
Spinoza  must  inevitably  disintegrate  and  dissolve 
into  monadism — his  pantheism  into  atheism  or 

I  have  dwelt  at  some  length  on  Spinozism  from 
a  desire  to  present  one  good  example  of  what  a 
pantheistic  system  is,  it  being  impossible  for  me  in 
the  circumstances  to  delineate  a  variety  of  typical 
instances.  I  might  have  selected  my  specimen 
from  later  times,  and  discoursed  on  the  pantheism 
of  a  Fichte,  or  Schelling,  or  Hegel.  But  I  am 
convinced  that  this  would  have  been  unprofitable. 
The  theories  of  any  of  these  thinkers  can  only 
be  intelligently  exhibited  and  fairly  criticised  in 
lengthened  expositions  which  permit  much  ex- 
planation and  illustration.  Good  brief  summaries 
of  their  systems  exist  in  various  histories  of  phil- 
1  See  Appendix  XXXVIII. 

37^  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

osophy,  but  I  doubt  if  unprofessional  students  will 
be  greatly  the  wiser  after  the  perusal  even  of  the 
best  of  them. 

So  far  as  the  philosophies  of  Fichte,  Schelling, 
and  Hegel  were  pantheistic  in  their  nature,  or  had 
a  pantheistic  interpretation  imposed  upon  them, 
they  presented  only  very  inadequate  and  un- 
worthy views  of  God.  He  is  surely  not  to  be 
identified  with  the  moral  order  of  the  universe,  or 
with  an  absolute  indifference^of  subject  and  object 
which  develops  itself  in  reality  and  ideality,  nature 
and  spirit,  or  with  a  self-evolving  impersonal  pro- 
cess which,  after  having  traversed  all  the  spheres 
of  matter  and  mind,  attains  a  knowledge  of  its 
Godhead  in  the  speculative  reason  of  man.  These 
are  not  rational  thoughts  but  foolish  fancies,'  al- 
though there  may  have  be^n  associated  with  them 
much  that  is  true,  suggestive,  and  profound.  It 
was  natural,  therefore,  that  the  ideaK^tic  pan'theism 
attributed  to  the  philosophers  just  named  ^hould 
have  very  soon  almost  disappeared  even  in  Ger- 
many itself  It  was  like  a  fountain  of  mingled 
sweet  and  bitter  waters  w^hich  had  scarcely 
emerged  into  the  light  of  ^day  before  they  parted 
into  two  distinct  streams,  the  one  being  that  which 
is  known  as  speculative  theism,  and  the  other  bear- 
ing various  names,  but  always  presenting  some 
phase  of  naturalistic  or  humanitarian  atheism. 
Pantheism  is  always  in  unstable  equilibrium   be- 

Recent  PantJicisvi.  377 

tween  theism  and  atheism,  and  is  logically  neces- 
sitated to  elevate  itself  to  the  one  or  to  descend  to 
the  other.^ 

When  idealism  is  followed  from  Germany  into 
France  it  becomes  still  more  difficult  to  decide 
whether  or  not  it  is  to  be  described  as  pantheism 
in  any  of  the  forms  which  it  has  there  assumed. 
The  Abbe  Maret,  one  of  the  historians  of  panthe- 
ism, represents  not  only  M.  Cousin  but  all  the 
chief  members  of  the  Eclectic  school  as  pantheists. 
This  is,  however,  a  very  exaggerated  view.  M. 
Cousin  himself  can  merely  be  charged  with  hold- 
ing tenets  which  involve  pantheism,  not  with  ex- 
plicitly teaching  it ;  while  the  eclectics  as  a  body 
have  maintained  the  cause  of  theism  with  con- 
spicuous zeal  and  talent.  The  views  of  M. 
Renan  as  to  Deity  are  so  vague  and  incoherent 
that  one  hesitates  to  attach  to  them  any  name. 
He  prays  with  rapt  devotion  to  the  Father,  the 
Father  in  heaven,  and  we  fancy  we  are  overhear- 
ing the  supplications  of  a  Christian  theist ;  he 
vows,  *'  I  think  there  is  not  in  the  universe  an 
intelligence  superior  to  that  of  man,"  and  we  con- 
elude  that  he  is  an  atheist ;  he  asks,  "Who  knows 
if  the  highest  term  of  progress  after  millions  of 
ages  may  not  evoke  the  absolute  consciousness  of 
the  universe,  and  in  this  consciousness  the  awak- 
ening of  all  that  lived.?"  and  we  answer  here  is 
1  See  Appendix  XXXIX. 

37^  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

pantheism  :  but  what  he  really  is,  or  even  in  the 
main  is,  it  is  almost  impossible  to  ascertain.  The 
theism,  I  fear,  is  a  mere  semblance,  and  "  Our 
Father  in  heaven"  on  his  lips  merely  equivalent 
to  "  Our  Father  the  abyss,"  to  whom  he  assures 
us  that  "we  feel  ourselves  to  be  in  mysterious 
affinity."  The  true  state  of  his  mind,  if  we  may 
venture  to  say  so,  appears  to  be  one  of  perpetual 
oscillation  between  atheism  and  pantheism — be- 
tween a  God  who  is  merely  "  the  category  of  the 
ideal"  and  a  God  who  is  a  blind  but  mighty 
fatality,  labouring  to  bring  forth  by  a  slow  and 
painful  self-evolution  an  absolute  intelligence — a 
man- God,  in  whose  consciousness  the  thoughts 
and  feehngs  of  all  the  generations  of  humanity 
may  be  comprehended. 

The  ablest  attempt  which  has  been  made  in 
France  in  the  present  day  to  substitute  for  the 
ordinary  idea  of  God  one  derived  from  the  prin- 
ciples of  idealism,  is  that  of  M.  Vacherot  in 
his  'Metaphysics  and  Science.'  With  all  his 
speculative  enthusiasm  and  talent,  however,  he 
has  only  reached  the  poor  result  that  God  must 
be  regarded  as  the  ideal  of  the  reason,  as  ab- 
stract but  not  real  being,  as  what  exists  only  by 
thought  and  for  thought.  We  can  scarcely  call 
this  pantheism,  because,  instead  of  implying  that 
God  is  the  source,  substance,  and  explanation  of 
the  universe,  it  supposes  that   He  is  the  source, 

Recent  PantJicisni.  379 

substance,  and   explanation  of  nothing- — existing 
merely  as  a  notion.^ 

In  our  English  speech  pantheism  has  been  sung 
by  Shelley,  preached  by  Emerson,  and  recom- 
mended in  loose  rhetorical  fashion  by  various 
writers,  but  it  has  not  yet  been  presented  in  the 
form  of  a  carefully  reasoned  theory.  ^ 

1  See  Appendix  XL.  2  gge  Appendix  XLl. 

3^0  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 



When  we  observe  how  widespread  pantheism  is, 
and  has  always  been,  we  are  naturally  led  to  ask, 
Why  has  it  proved  so  attractive  ?  The  considera- 
tion of  this  question  may  be  combined  with  that 
of  another  equally  important :  Does  it  deserve  to 
be  as  attractive  as  it  has  actually  proved  to  be  ? 
These  are  the  two  questions  which  I  shall  keep 
before  me  in  the  present  lecture.  While  endeav- 
ouring so  far  to  answer  both,  I  shall  consider  them, 
as  I  have  just  indicated,  not  apart,  but  in  connec- 
tion. Thus  viewed  they  are  practically  equivalent 
to  the  single  question.  What  are  the  real  and  ap- 
parent merits  and  defects  of  pantheism  t 

Let  us,  in  the  first  place,  seek  an  answer  by 
judging  of  pantheism  as  a  response  to  the  purely 
and  properly  religious  wants  of  human  nature. 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  Religion.  38 1 

Now,  obviously,  pantheism  is  in  this  reference 
incomparably  superior  to  atheism.  In  every  form 
it  gives  some  answer  to  our  religious  cravings.  In 
every  form  atheism  gives  lione.  Pantheism  always 
presents  at  least  a  little  sustenance  for  the  spirit, 
and  sometimes  a  comparatively  rich  supply.  Athe- 
ism yields  nothing  whatever  which  can  satisfy  the 
higher  appetites  of  a  human  being.  It  pronounces 
everything  a  vanity  except  what  is  finite  and  fleet- 
ing. It  is  most  natural,  therefore,  that  the  general 
mind  and  heart  of  humanity  should  never  have 
hesitated  when  the  alternative  presented  to  it  was 
pantheism  or  atheism  to  prefer  the  former. 

Then  pantheism  has  a  decided  advantage  over 
polytheism  in  virtue  of  its  emphatic  afifirmation  of 
the  unity  and  infinity  of  God.  It  responds,  in  con- 
sequence, to  imperative  demands  of  reason  which 
polytheism  contradicts.  Hence  while  the  human 
mind  has  always  found  itself  compelled,  as  soon  as 
it  began  to  philosophise,  either  to  assail  polythe- 
istic beliefs  or  to  interpret  them  in  a  way  which 
changes  their  entire  character,  it  has,  on  the  con- 
trary, been  always  led  by  speculation  to  adopt 
pantheistic  tenets.  It  is  just  when  polytheism  be- 
gins to  pass  into  pantheism  that  philosophy  makes 
its  appearance ;  and,  in  fact,  it  is  the  philosophy 
which  accounts  for  the  transition.  Further,  pan- 
theism has  the  power  of  rendering  polytheism  sub- 
servient to  its  advancement.    It  can  provide  it  with 

382  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

a  basis  of  intellectual  principles  ;  it  can  devise 
plausible  reasons  even  for  its  most  extravagant 
details;  it  can  make  itself  indispensable  to  it; 
and  by  doing  so  it  can  secure  the  assistance  of 
all  the  forces  of  faith  and  superstition  possessed 
by  polytheism.  This  may  be  a  source  of  enor- 
mous influence,  as  the  example  of  India  con- 
vincingly shows. 

Further,  pantheism  has  a  certain  marked  supe- 
riority over  every  doctrine  or  system  which  leads 
men  to  think  of  creation  as  independent  of  the 
Creator,  or  of  God  as  withdrawn  from  His  crea- 
tures. Where  theism  has  degenerated  into  deism, 
or  Christianity  into  a  mere  intellectual  creed,  it  is 
not  unnatural  that  pantheism  should  prevail.  In 
such  a  case  its  spread  may  serve  a  providential 
purpose  as  a  counterpoise  to  the  opposite  extreme 
of  error.  It  is  the  expression  of  a  sense  of  a  Divine 
presence  in  the  universe.  It  insists  on  the  all-per- 
vading activity  of  God.  It  is  belief  in  Him  as 

*'  Whose  dwelling  is  the  light  of  setting  suns, 
And  the  round  ocean,  and  the  living  air, 
And  the  blue  sky,  and  in  the  mind  of  man : 
A  motion  and  a  spirit,  which  impels 
All  thinking  things,  all  objects  of  all  thought, 
And  rolls  through  all  things. " 

In  the  possession  of  this  truth  it  has  nothing 
which  a  true  theism,  such  as  we  find  in  the  Bible, 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  Religion.  383 

has  not  also,  but  it  has  a  truth  which  the  human 
soul  needs,  which  theists  have  often  not  prized 
enough,  and  which  many  professed  theists  have 
virtually  forgotten  altogether. 

Pantheism  likewise  ministers  in  some  degree  to 
devout  emotion  and  affection  by  centring  all  in,  and 
even  by  sacrificing  all  to,  the  one  absolute  Exist- 
ence. It  teaches  men  to  rise  both  above  the  good 
and  the  evil  of  the  visible  and  temporal  world,  and 
to  yearn  after  eternal  rest  in  the  world  of  immu- 
table being.  It  teaches  them  to  sacrifice  egotism 
and  to  glory  in  being  parts  and  particles  of  God. 
That  many  minds  can  find  a  certain  satisfaction 
and  strength  in  this  teaching  the  wide  prevalence 
of  pantheism  in  religion  abundantly  proves.  It 
pervades  all  Hindu  religion,  and  elicits  and  sus- 
tains in  many  a  Hindu  mind  a  piety  which  concen- 
trates the  thoughts  and  energies  with  such  wonder 
ful  intensity  and  exclusiveness  on  eternity,  that 
time  and  the  things  of  time  appear  only  the  delu- 
sions of  a  dream.  It  has  in  every  age  of  Christian 
history  presented  itself  either  as  the  rival  and  op- 
ponent of  Christian  doctrine,  or  with  the  claim  to 
be  its  highest  and  truest  expression  ;  and  many 
great  and  elevated  minds  have  been  found  to  listen 
to  it,  and  to  look  to  the  absorption  in  the  Infinite 
which  it  promises  as  their  highest  good. 

Pantheism,  however,  falls  far  short  of  giving  such 
satisfaction  to  the  religious  wants  of  man  as  a  true 

384  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

theism  supplies.  It  does  well  to  insist  on  the  omni- 
presence of  God,  and  on  the  complete  and  ceaseless 
dependence  of  the  universe  on  His  power.  But  all 
true  theism  does  the  same.  There  is  no  pantheism 
in  the  Bible,  yet  no  book  is  more  thoroughly  per- 
vaded and  inspired  by  the  thought  that  finite  things 
are  not  self-existent,  nor  self-sustained,  nor  self- 
evolved,  but  that  God  is  over  all  and  in  all,  the 
ground  of  existence,  the  source  of  life,  the  giver 
of  every  good.  This  thought  is  implied  on  each 
page.  It  is  strikingly  expressed  in  the  words  of 
the  Psalmist  when  he  says, — "  If  I  ascend  up  into 
heaven.  Thou  art  there  :  if  I  make  my  bed  in 
hell,  behold.  Thou  art  there.  If  I  take  the  wings 
of  the  morning,  and  dwell  in  the  uttermost  parts 
of  the  sea  ;  even  there  shall  Thy  hand  lead  me  : " 
of  the  prophet, — "  Am  I  .  God  at  hand,  saith  the 
Lord,  and  not  a  God  afar  off.?  Can  any  hide  him- 
self in  secret  places  that  I  shall  not  see  him.?  saith 
the  Lord  :  do  not  I  fill  heaven  and  earth }  saith 
the  Lord  : "  of  the  Apostle  Paul, — "  For  in  God  we 
live,  and  move,  and  have  our  being : "  and  of  the 
Apostle  John, — "  He  that  dwelleth  in  love  dwelleth 
in  God,  and  God  in  him."  To  call  language  of 
this  kind  pantheistic  has  no  warrant  in  reason,  and 
no  other  tendency  than  to  mislead.  The  truth 
that  "  of  God,  and  through  Him,  and  to  Him,  are 
all  things,"  is  common  to  pantheism  and  theism, 
and  distinguishes  both  from  deism.    There  is  more, 

PantJicisjii  hi  relation  to  Religion,  385 

however,  than  this  to  be  said.  Pantheism  is,  in 
fact,  far  from  teaching  the  foil  truth  even  as  to 
God's  presence.  It  cannot  consistently  conceive 
of  it  as  a  personal  and  spiritual,  but  only  as  a 
natural  and  necessary,  presence.  It  tells  us  that 
God  is  in  all  that  we  see  and  touch  and  hear, — in 
the  light  of  day,  the  springing  grass,  and  whisper- 
ing breeze  ;  but  it  tells  us  too  that  the  God  who  is 
there  is  present  only  as  substance,  force,  and  law, 
not  as  reason,  love,  and  will.  If  so — if  God  is  only 
thus  present  to  us  in  the  elements  and  agencies 
of  nature, — His  presence  is,  in  reality,  only  their 
presence.  It  adds  nothing  to  their  presence. 
Were  it  withdrawn,  if  the  things  themselves  ex- 
isted, there  would  be  no  difference.  Imagination 
and  poetry  may  endeavour  to  make  something  of 
the  distinction  between  the  presence  of  a  merely 
impersonal  God  in  nature  and  the  mere  presence 
of  nature,  but  I  do  not  see  how  either  reason  or  a 
reasonable  faith,  either  philosophy  or  religion,  can 
attach  any  importance  to  it.  If  the  God  who  is  in 
the  sunbeam  can  only  be  present  as  its  light  and 
heat,  the  sunbeam  without  God  must  be  equivalent 
to  the  sunbeam  with  God.  Only  when  God  is  felt 
to  be  the  creative  and  legislative  Reason  —  the 
supreme  Will,  free,  righteous,  and  loving, — can  His 
presence  in  the  objects  and  processes  of  nature 
acquire  a  real  religious  significance.  If  He  is  even 
only  so  present  in  ourselves  that  there  is  no  dis- 
2  B 

386  AntiTJieistic  TJieories. 

tinction  between  Him  and  us,  between  His  power 
and  our  power,  His  presence  with  us  is  not  dis- 
tinguishable from  His  absence  from  us.  Another 
sort  of  presence  is  needed  before  the  soul  can  be 
satisfied, — the  presence  of  one  spirit  with  another 
spirit.  Religion  implies,  undoubtedly,  that  we 
realise  God's  presence  with  us ;  but  it  equally  im- 
plies, what  pantheism  denies,  that  He  is  personally 
distinct  from  us  ;  that  He  can  have  affection  and 
compassion  towards  us,  and  that  we  can  love  Him 
with  an  unselfish  love;  that  He  can  guide  and 
help  us,  and  that  we  may  trust  Him  as  we  can- 
not trust  ourselves  ;  and  that  we  may  fear  Him  as 
one  whom  we  can  offend,  and  pray  to  Him  as  one 
who  can  hear  and  answer  us. 

Religion  supposes  faith,  love,  hope ;  but  pan- 
theism when  it  denies  the  personality  of  God  re- 
fuses to  these  affections  an  appropriate  object.  It 
withholds  from  the  view  of  the  spirit  what  can 
alone  satisfy  its  best  and  deepest  feelings.  The 
less  of  determinate  personal  character  God  is  re- 
garded as  having,  the  less  is  it  possible  to  love  or 
trust  Him.  When  supposed  to  be  wholly  indeter- 
minate and  impersonal,  no  room  at  all  is  left  for  a 
religion  characterised  by  the  personal  affections. 
To  a  necessarily  self-evolving  impersonal  God — 
whether  conceived  of  as  substance,  identity,  force, 
law,  process,  or  idea — the  only  worship  which  can 
reasonably  be  offered  is  a  cold,  passionless  resigna- 

PantJicism  in  relation  to  Religion.  387 

tion,  which  submits  because  it  must,  which  bows 
not  to  love  but  to  power,  and  which  looks  forward 
to  the  eternal  loss  of  individual  existence  as  the 
inevitable  destination  of  man.  The  soul  craves  for 
union  with  God,  and  can  have  no  healthy  spirit- 
ual life  except  through  union  with  Him  ;  but  the 
value,  and  even  possibility  of  such  union  must  de- 
pend not  only  on  the  disposition  of  man,  but  on 
the  character  of  God.  Pantheism,  however,  would 
divest  God  of  character :  it  denies  to  Him  self- 
consciousness,  fatherly  love,  providential  care,  re- 
deeming mercy:  under  pretence  of  exalting  Him 
above  all  categories  of  thought  and  existence  it 
reduces  Him  to  the  level  of  dead  things,  of  neces- 
sary processes,  of  abstract  ideas,  or  even  to  the 
still  lower  level  of  the  unknowable  and  non-ex- 
istent ;  and  it  thereby  leaves  no  room  for  that 
union  with  God  in  rational,  pure,  and  holy  love, 
which  is  the  only  basis,  the  grand  distinction,  the 
power,  and  the  glory  of  true  religion.  It  offers  to 
enable  us  to  realise  better  than  any  other  theory 
the  omnipresence  of  God,  but  it  represents  Him 
as  in  reality  inaccessible  either  to  intelligence  or 
affection.  It  keeps  the  word  of  promise  to  the  ear, 
but  breaks  it  to  the  heart. 

History  confirms  what  has  just  been  said.  It 
shows  that  pantheism  can  only  find  room  for  a 
religion  of  affectionate  devotion  by  being  untrue 
to  its  distinctive  principles.     The  more  consistent 

388  Anti-TJieistic  TheoiHes. 

it  is,  the  less  religious  it  is.  In  Brahminism  and 
Buddhism  we  perceive  how  a  deep  sense  of  the 
evils  of  the  present  life,  and  a  vivid  fear  of  the  evils 
which  may  be  endured  in  the  future  phases  of 
existence,  may  cause  men  to  yearn  intensely  and 
to  labour  earnestly  for  the  extinction  of  person- 
ality, or  even  for  utter  annihilation,  but  the  ab- 
solute Being  of  the  one  system  and  the  absolute 
Fate  of  the  other  are  alike  unloved.  The  mystical 
piety  of  India,  when  strictly  pantheistic,  knows 
nothing  of  the  gratitude  for  Divine  mercy  and  the 
trust  in  Divine  righteousness  which  characterise 
evangelical  piety.  Instead  of  love  and  commun- 
ion in  love,  it  can  only  commend  to  us  the  con- 
templation of  an  object  which  is  incomprehen- 
sible, devoid  of  all  affections,  and  indifferent  to 
all  actions.  When  feelings  like  love,  gratitude, 
and  trust  are  expressed  in  the  hymns  and 
prayers  of  Hindu  worship,  it  is  in  consequence 
of  a  virtual  denial  of  the  principles  of  pantheism ; 
it  is  because  the  mind  has  consented  to  regard  as 
real  what  it  had  previously  pronounced  illusory, 
and  to  personify  what  it  had  declared  to  be  im- 
personal. Hinduism  holds  it  to  be  a  fundamental 
truth  that  the  absolute  Being  can  have  no  per- 
sonal attributes,  and  yet  it  has  not  only  to  allow 
but  to  encouracre  its  adherents  to  invest  that  Beinsf 
with  these  attributes,  in  order  that  by  thus  tem- 

PantJicism  in  relation  to  Religion.  389 

porarily  deluding  themselves  they  may  evoke  in 
their  hearts  at  least  a  feeble  and  transient  glow  of 
devotion.  It  has  even  been  forced,  by  its  inability 
to  elicit  and  sustain  a  religious  life  by  what  is 
strictly  pantheistic  in  its  doctrine,  to  crave  the  help 
of  polytheism,  and  to  treat  the  foulest  orgies  and 
cruellest  rites  of  idolatry  as  acts  of  reasonable  wor- 
ship paid  indirectly  to  the  sole  and  supreme  Being. 
It  finds  polytheism  to  be  the  indispensable  supple- 
ment of  its  pantheism.  It  is  the  personal  gods  of 
Hindu  polytheism,  and  not  the  impersonal  principle 
of  Hindu  pantheism,  that  the  Hindu  people  wor- 
ship. No  people  can  worship  what  they  believe 
to  be  entirely  impersonal.  Even  in  the  so-called 
religions  of  nature  the  deified  natural  powers  are 
alv/ays  personified.  It  is  only  as  persons  that 
they  are  offered  prayers  and  sacrifices.  In  lands 
where  polytheism  has  been  destroyed  the  pantheist 
still  finds  himself  unable  to  worship  mere  indeter- 
minate Being,  and  hence  he  becomes  a  worshipper 
either  of  humanity  in  general  or  of  the  individuals 
whom  he  regards  as  heroes.  He  can  only  conceive 
of  his  God  as  having  reality  in  the  progress  of  the 
human  race  or  in  the  souls  of  great  men.  Says 
one  of  our  modern  pantheists,  "  The  universal  does 
not  attract  us  until  housed  in  an  individual.  Who 
heeds  the  waste  abyss  of  possibilities  }  The  ocean 
is  everywhere  the  same,  but   it  has  no  character 

390  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

unless  seen  with  the  shore  or  the  ship."  In  so 
far  as  pantheists,  Hegel  and  Cousin,  Carlyle  and 
Emerson,  are  also  hero -worshippers,  man -wor- 

I  have  said  that  the  ability  of  pantheism  to  ally 
itself  with  polytheism  accounts  for  its  prevalence 
in  certain  lands  ;  but  I  must  add  that,  although  a 
power,  this  ability  is  not  a  merit.  It  is  a  power  for 
evil — a  power  which  sustains  superstition,  corrupts 
the  system  which  possesses  it,  deludes  and  de- 
grades the  human  mind  and  heart,  and  arrests 
social  progress.  Educated  Hindus  are  often  found 
to  represent  it  as  an  excellence  of  Brahminism, 
that  it  not  only  tolerates  but  embraces  and  incor- 
porates the  lower  phases  of  religion.  They  con- 
tend that  it  thereby  elevates  and  purifies  poly- 
theism, and  helps  the  minds  of  men  to  pass  from 
the  lowest  stage  of  religious  development  grad- 
ually up  to  the  highest.  The  opinion  may  seem 
plausible,  but  neither  reason  nor  experience  con- 
firms it.  Pantheism  can  give  support  to  poly- 
theism, and  receive  support  from  it,  but  only  at 
the  cost  of  sacrificing  all  its  claims  to  be  a  rational 
system,  and  of  losing  such  moral  virtue  as  it  pos- 
sesses. If  it  look  upon  the  popular  deities  as  mere 
fictions  of  the  popular  mind,  its  association  with 
polytheism  can  only  mean  a  conscious  alliance 
with  falsehood,  the  deliberate  propagation  of  lies, 
a  persistent  career  of  hypocrisy.     If,  on  the  other 

PantJicisiii  in  relation  to  Religion.  391 

hand,  it  regard  them  as  really  manifestations  of 
the  absolute  Being,  it  must  believe  this  on  the 
authority  of  revelation  or  tradition,  for  it  is  impos- 
sible to  pretend  that  their  existence  and  the  reality 
of  their  exploits  can  be  proved  by  reason.  But  in 
this  case  .pantheism  manifestly  ceases  to  have  any 
title  to  rationality.  Instead  of  showing  itself  to 
be  a  system  explanatory  of  facts,  it  convicts  itself 
of  being  a  device  to  give  plausibility  to  fables. 
Whatever  can  account  for  what  is  false  as  easily 
as  for  what  is  true,  cannot  really  account  for  what 
is  true.  Then,  as  to  the  testimony  of  experience, 
India  alone  is  surely  sufficient  proof  that  the  union 
of  pantheism  with  polytheism  does  not  correct  but 
stimulate  the  extravagances  of  the  latter.  Pan- 
theism, instead  of  elevating  and  purifying  Hindu 
polytheism,  has  contributed  to  increase  the  number, 
the  absurdity,  and  the  foulness  of  its  superstitions. 
While  in  India  pantheism  has  allied  itself  to 
polytheism,  in  Germany  it  has  often  professed  to 
accept  even  the  most  distinctive  doctrines  of  Chris- 
tianity. Many  followers  of  Hegel  have  claimed 
to  find  in  the  mysteries  of  faith  the  profoundest 
speculative  truths,  while  utterly  rejecting  and  de- 
spising them  as  presented  in  Scripture  and  by  the 
Church.  They  have  talked  of  the  Father,  the  Son, 
and  the  Spirit;  of  the  incarnation  and  atonement; 
of  the  Word  and  sacraments  ;  of  the  resurrection 
and  eternal  life, — as  if  they  were  sincere  and  fer- 

392  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

vent  believers,  and  yet  have  been  virtually  atheists. 
The  form  of  pantheism  which  they  have  adopted 
has  enabled  them  to  present  their  anti-religious 
negations  in  the  language  which  had  been  appro- 
priated to  the  expression  of  positive  Christian 
tenets.  It  has  allowed  them,  while  discarding 
sacred  things,  to  retain  sacred  names  and  vener- 
ated formulas.  Now,  undoubtedly,  pantheism  in 
Germany  has  owed  much  of  its  success  to  this 
power  of  assuming  the  aspect  of  the  system  to 
which  it  is  most  opposed.  Through  availing  itself 
thereof  it  has  not  only  commended  its  doctrines  to 
some  who  would  have  been  shocked  by  them  if  they 
had  been  presented  without  disguise,  but  it  has 
been  able  to  work  an  amount  of  harm  which  it 
could  never  otherwise  have  done,  by  substituting 
for  the  principles  of  the  Gospel  dogmas  nominally 
the  same  but  really  as  different  as  darkness  from 
light  or  poison  from  food.  But,  again,  it  must 
be  said  that  power  is  by  no  means  identical  with 
merit.  Satan  is  only  the  more  dangerous  because 
he  can  take  the  form  of  an  angel  of  light ;  and  he  is 
none  the  worthier  of  our  esteem  when  he  presents 
himself  in  this  character.  So  pantheism  will  re- 
ceive no  credit  either  from  truly  intelligent  or 
scrupulously  honest  men  because  of  its  power  of 
seeming  to  be  what  it  is  not,  and  of  explaining 
away  or  perverting  what  it  professes  to  interpret 
and  confirm. 

PantJicisin  in  relation  to  Religion.  393 

I  have  admitted  that  pantheism,  judged  of  from 
a  religious  point  of  view,  ranks  high  above  atheism. 
I  am  entitled,  yea,  bound,  to  add  that  it  is  very- 
apt  to  sink  down  to  the  same  low  level.  It  has 
often  been  observed  that  it  has  throughout  its 
whole  history  vacillated  between  atheism  —  the 
denial  that  there  is  really  a  God, — and  acosmism — 
the  denial  that  there  is  really  a  world.  The  reason 
is  obvious.  It  can  only  defend  its  claim  to  have 
reached  the  knowledge  of  absolute  unity  by  virtu- 
ally suppressing  either  the  infinite  or  the  finite — 
by  representing  either  nature  as  an  illusion  or  God 
as  an  abstraction.  This  truth  has  been  so  convinc- 
ingly established  by  M.  Saisset  that  it  would  be  a 
waste  of  labour  to  dwell  upon  it.  Dr  Liddon  has 
presented  it  concisely  in  these  words :  "  In  con- 
ceiving of  God,  the  choice  before  a  pantheist  lies 
between  alternatives  from  which  no  genius  has 
as  yet  devised  a  real  escape.  God,  the  panthe- 
ist must  assert,  is  literally  everything ;  God  is 
the  whole  material  and  spiritual  universe ;  He 
is  humanity  in  all  its  manifestations  ;  He  is  by 
inclusion  every  moral  and  immoral  agent ;  and 
every  form  and  exaggeration  of  moral  evil,  no 
less  than  every  variety  of  moral  excellence  and 
beauty,  is  part  of  the  all- pervading,  all-compre- 
hending movement  of  His  universal  life.  If  this 
revolting  blasphemy  be  declined,  then  the  God 
of  pantheism   must  be  the  barest  abstraction   of 

394  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

abstract  being ;  He  must,  as  with  the  Alexandrian 
thinkers,  be  so  exaggerated  an  abstraction  as  to 
transcend  existence  itself;  He  must  be  conceived 
of  as  utterly  unreal,  lifeless,  non-existent ;  while 
the  only  real  beings  are  those  finite  and  deter- 
minate forms  of  existence  whereof  'nature'  is 
composed.  This  dilemma  haunts  all  the  histori- 
cal transformations  of  pantheism,  in  Europe  as 
in  the  East,  to-day  as  two  thousand  years  ago. 
Pantheism  must  either  assert  that  its  God  is  the 
one  only  existing  being  whose  existence  absorbs 
and  is  identified  with  the  universe  and  humanity; 
or  else  it  must  admit  that  He  is  the  rarest  and 
most  unreal  of  conceivable  abstractions  ;  in  plain 
terms,  that  He  is  no  being  at  all."^  If  pantheism 
must  thus  sacrifice,  however,  either  the  infinite  to 
the  finite  or  the  finite  to  the  infinite — either  God 
to  nature  or  nature  to  God — it  is  not  difficult  to 
see  which  will  be  in  greatest  danger  of  being 
surrendered.  Profoundly  speculative  and  deeply 
devotional  minds  may  refuse  on  any  account  to 
abandon  their  faith  in  the  infinite,  and  be  content 
to  sacrifice  the  existence  of  the  worlds  of  sense 
and  consciousness ;  but  ordinary  minds  will  as- 
suredly never  be  able  to  persuade  themselves  that 
all  finite  things,  themselves  included,  are  mere 
illusions  and  nonentities,  and  will,  consequently, 
confound  God  with  the  universe — thereby  resolv- 

^  Bampton  Lectures  for  1866— Svo  ed.,  pp.  448,  449. 

PantJieism  in  relation  to  Morality.  395 

ing  God  as  distinguished  from  nature  into  a  mere 
notion  or  name. 

Religion  and  morality  are  so  allied,  that  when 
we  treat  of  the  relation  of  pantheism  to  one  of 
them,  we  cannot  leave  wholly  out  of  consideration 
its  relation  also  to  the  other.  In  fact,  it  is  pre- 
cisely in  its  non-recognition  of  the  moral  relations 
on  which  the  communion  of  sinful  man  with  a  holy 
God  ought  to  rest  that  pantheism  most  signally 
fails  as  a  religion.  Through  its  blindness  to  the 
holiness  of  God  and  the  sinfulness  of  man  it  can 
only  elicit  and  sustain  a  piety  which  is  exclusive 
of  morality.  It  allows,  yea,  leads,  its  votaries  to 
believe  that  they  can  be  religious  without  caring 
to  be  righteous.  It  implies  that  all  self-accusa- 
tion is  self-deception,  since  the  worst  passions  and 
vilest  actions  of  humanity  are  states  and  opera- 
tions of  the  One  Absolute  Being.  Man  cannot  be 
justly  held  responsible  for  what  truly  belongs  to 
God — for  affections  or  deeds  which  are  necessarily 
manifestations  of  the  Divine  nature.  This  charac- 
teristic of  pantheism  has  doubtless  been  to  many 
an  attraction.  It  is  only  too  natural  that  those 
who  love  sin  should  not  desire  to  have  to  do  with 
a  God  who  hates  it.  Piety  without  morality  can- 
not fail  to  please  many  better  than  a  piety  which 
is  inclusive  of  morality.  But  such  a  piety  can 
never  truly  satisfy  a  living  and  awakened  soul. 
Conscience    is   an    ineradicable    principle   of    the 

39^  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

human  spirit ;  it  is  even  the  highest  principle  of 
the  human  spirit,  because  it  testifies  to  the  exist- 
ence and  presence  of  a  law  which  is  the  expression 
of  a  supremely  high  and  holy  nature.  There  is 
no  principle  to  which  religion  is  more  bound  to 
conform  and  yield  satisfaction,  yet  pantheism  con- 
tradicts its  most  sacred  and  certain  convictions, 
and  directly  tends  to  eradicate  and  destroy  it. 

Yes,  pantheism  is  not  only  an  inadequate  reli- 
gion, but  it  strikes  at  the  very  roots  of  morality, 
and  strives  to  set  aside  its  fundamental  postulates. 
Man  feels  himself  a  free  agent  and  responsible  for 
his  conduct.  He  recognises  an  order  or  law  which 
impresses  him  as  sacred,  and  he  has  a  conviction 
that  he  can  either  bring  his  life  into  harmony  with 
it  or  war  against  it.  He  acknowledges  obligations 
and  rights;  he  experiences  the  joys  of  an  approv- 
ing conscience,  and  the  bitterness  of  remorse.  The 
pantheist  is  a  man,  and  these  convictions  and  feel- 
ings are  known  to  him  as  well  as  to  other  men ; 
and  he  may,  as  many  pantheists  do,  try  earnestly 
to  retain  them,  to  do  justice  to  them,  to  incor- 
porate them  into  his  system.  But  the  task  is 
a  hopeless  one.  If  evil  be  no  less  necessary  or 
divine  than  good,  evil  must  be  but  good  in  an- 
other way  we  are  not  skilled  in,  and  neither  God 
nor  man  can  reasonably  condemn  it.  If  human 
personality  and  freedom  are  illusions,  then  must 
obligation,  guilt  and  retribution  be  the  absurdest 

PantJieisni  in  relation  to  Morality.  397 

fictions.  In  a  word,  from  pantheistic  premisses 
we  can  only  legitimately  infer  that  **  whatever  is, 
is  right,"  or  that  "  might  is  right." 

Pantheists  who  have  had  any  regard  to  logic 
have  never  been  able  to  reach  other  conclusions. 
The  advocates  of  the  Vedanta  doctrine  teach  that 
sin  is  neither  real  in  itself  nor  capable  of  reaching 
to  what  is  real  in  man  ;  that  it  is  but  a  creation  of 
ignorance  ;  that  "  though  the  soul  plunge  itself  in 
sin,  like  a  sword  in  water,  it  shall  in  no  wise  cling 
to  it;"  that  the  distinctions  of  right  and  wrong  are 
mere  appearances  which  will  vanish  as  soon  as  the 
dream -state  of  life  is  dispelled.  The  beautiful 
Bhagavad  •  Gita  distinctly  teaches  that  what  are 
called  right  actions  and  wrong  actions  are  alike 
to  God;  that  He  may  be  served  with  evil  as  well 
as  with  good.  It  may  be  said  that  Stoicism, 
although  a  form  of  pantheism,  was  sublimely 
moral  —  a  system  which  inspired  and  moulded 
heroic  natures  and  nourished  the  noblest  virtues. 
But  it  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  the  entire 
morality  of  Stoicism  rested  on  affirmations  which 
no  Stoic  ever  made  even  a  serious  attempt  to 
reconcile  either  with  the  unity  of  existence  or  the 
fatalism  of  events.  Stoic  morality  was  rooted  in 
the  belief  that  reason  and  righteousness  ruled  the 
universe,  and,  above  all,  in  the  conviction  that  the 
will  is  outside  of  the  sphere  of  fate — that  it  is  free ; 
that  man  is  the  absolute  lord  of  his  own  actions ; 

398  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

that  the  soul  is  essentially  above  fate,  and  equal 
to  Jove  himself.  Stoicism  escaped  the  moral  con- 
sequences of  its  pantheism  only  by  disregarding 
speculative  consistency,  and  asserting  the  most 
manifest  contradictions  with  truly  Roman  au- 
dacity. Pass  to  Spinoza.  He  had  the  merit  of 
at  least  making  desperate  efforts  to  attain  con- 
sistency. What  sort  of  moral  creed,  then,  did. he 
deduce  from  pantheistic  principles }  One  which 
almost  looks  as  if  it  had  been  the  joint  production 
of  a  Thomas  a  Kempis  and  a  Thomas  Hobbes, 
containing,  as  it  does,  along  with  a  rule  of  life 
which  is  rather  too  good  for  saints  so  long  as 
they  are  in  the  flesh,  another  which  is  only  fol- 
lowed by  the  brutes.  Spinoza  was  a  naturally 
noble-minded  man,  and  so  he  taught  that  virtue 
is  the  intellectual  love  of  God ;  but  he  was  also  a 
pantheist  and  a  reasoner,  and  therefore  he  taught, 
too,  that  the  measure  of  man's  right  is  his  power 
and  appetite ;  that  the  best  right  is  that  of  the 
strongest.  In  like  manner,  whenever  Hegelian 
pantheism  has  been  fully  thought  out  and  clearly 
expressed,  evil  has  been  maintained  to  be  essential 
to  the  self-manifestation  of  God  and  necessarily 
involved  in  the  existence  of  good,  might  has  been 
proclaimed  to  be  right,  success  has  been  held  to 
be  its  own  sufficient  justification,  war  has  been  de- 
fended on  immoral  grounds,  and  personal  liberties 
have  been  despised.     The  whole  history  of  panthe- 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  Morality.  399 

ism,  in  fact,  teaches  that  no  true  system  of  ethics 
or  poHtics  can  be  based  on  a  pantheistic  founda- 
tion ;  that  neither  individuals  nor  societies  can 
derive  a  healthy  moral  life  from  a  pantheistic 

Von  Hartmann,  in  a  celebrated  but  superficial 
book  on  the  Religion  of  the  Future,  has  asserted 
that  theism  is  inconsistent  with  morality,  since 
there  can  be  no  moral  worth  in  the  obedience  of 
the  will  to  any  law  which  is  not  of  its  own  making ; 
and  that  pantheism  is  the  true  basis  of  morality, 
since  it  alone  enables  us  to  conceive  of  the  will  as 
its  own  law.  Such  statements  show  great  want 
both  of  insight  and  reflection.  If  the  will  did  give 
itself  a  law,  its  obedience  to  that  law  would  be  mor- 
ally worthless.  It  cannot  be  reasonably  imagined 
to  be  morally  bound  to  obey  a  law  which  it  has  it- 
self created,  or,  indeed,  to  be  morally  bound  at  all, 
unless  under  a  law  which  is  not  of  its  own  making. 
The  will  is  not  its  own  law,  and  cannot  even  be 
conceived  of  as  its  own  law.  To  identify  the  will 
and  its  law  is  to  confound  entirely  distinct  things. 
For  the  will  to  rule  the  will,  it  would  need  at  once 
to  command  and  to  obey,  to  be  bond  and  free,  de- 
pendent and  independent.  To  be  its  own  rule  were 
for  it  the  same  as  to  be  without  rule.  Besides, 
nothing  can  be  more  obvious  than  that  pantheism 
does  not  allow  us  to  conceive  of  the  will  as  deter- 
mining itself,  as  giving  itself  a  law,  or  being  a  law 

400  Aiiti'TJieisiic  Theories, 

to  itself.  It  makes  it,  on  the  contrary,  impossible 
for  us  consistently  to  believe  in  any  real  self-deter- 
mination or  self-control  as  beloncrinof  to  the  will. 
Pantheism  leaves  no  possibility  of  the  existence  of 
will  properly  so  called.  Let  it  be  granted  that 
there  is  true  will  in  God  or  man,  and  pantheism 
cannot  be  maintained  to  be  a  rational  theory  of  the 

It  is  more  plausible  —  more  correct  even — to 
argue  that  pantheism  ministers  moral  strength  to 
men  by  teaching  them  to  realise  that  God  worketh 
in  them  and  through  them.  By  inculcating  its 
doctrine  of  the  immanence  of  God  in  all  human 
thought  and  action,  while  at  the  same  time  espe- 
cially insisting  on  the  achievements  of  power  and 
genius  as  the  manifestations  of  the  Divine  agency, 
it  has  gained  for  itself  a  sympathy  and  exerted  an 
influence  which  are  far  from  inconsiderable.  The 
conqueror,  the  philosopher,  the  poet,  feels  him- 
self borne  upwards,  as  it  were,  and  along  a  path 
of  glory  and  success,  by  the  force  of  an  indwelling 
God.  The  hours  of  highest  achievement  and  joy 
are  those  in  which  man  is  frequently  least  con- 
scious of  his  weaknesses  and  limitations  as  a  man, 
and  most  prone  to  identify  himself  with  God.  Pan- 
theism may  give  strength  both  for  endurance  and 
action,  although  it  is  more  closely  connected  with 
the  pride  of  power  than  with  power  itself  It  does 
nothing,  however,  in  a  moral  respect  which  a  true 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  Morality.  401 

theism  does  not  accomplish  in  a  wiser  and  more 
efficacious  way.  Such  a  theism  as  that  which 
underlies  Christianity  tells  us  that  we  may  have 
strength  from  God  for  all  our  work  if  we  only  seek 
for  it ;  that  God  is  well  pleased  to  work  in  every 
humble  heart  both  to  will  and  to  do;  and,  at  the 
same  time,  it  does  not  tell  us,  like  pantheism,  that 
whatever  we  will  and  do  is  His  willing  and  doing  ; 
that  whether  we  pray  or  refrain  from  prayer,  our 
work  will  be  His  w^ork.  It  teaches  us  to  trust  in 
God  for  all  good  gifts  and  for  grace  to  perform  all 
good  works ;  while  it  does  not,  like  pantheism, 
make  this  great  lesson  of  none  effect  by  destroying 
the  distinction  between  good  and  evil, — between 
dwelling  in  God  and  living  in  sin, — between  being 
filled  with  the  spirit  of  God  and  filled  wdth  ambi- 
tion or  pride  or  lust. 

The  distinction  of  good  and  evil,  then,  like  the 
reality  of  a  power  of  self-determination,  is  a  barrier 
to  pantheism.  A  plain  man  who  holds  fast  to  what 
his  conscience  testifies  as  to  the  opposition  of 
right  and  wrong,  will  always  have  an  adequate 
argument  in  hand  against  a  self- consistent  and 
thorough  pantheism.  For  pantheism  would  oblit- 
erate the  distinction  between  them,  or  make  evil 
the  mere  absence  of  good  or  a  lesser  good.  It 
cannot  allow  that  moral  good  and  evil  are  in  direct 
and  positive  antagonism.  It  is  bound  to  maintain 
that  the  one  involves  the  other,  and  that  both  are 
2  C 

402  Anti-TIieistic  Theories. 

needed  to  complete  a  whole.  It  sees  in  their  op- 
position only  an  instance  of  the  dualism  so  abun- 
dantly exemplified  by  the  polarities  of  nature, — 
by  action  and  reaction,  darkness  and  light,  heat 
and  cold,  male  and  female,  motion  and  rest,  matter 
and  spirit.  But  who  that  faithfully  adheres  to  the 
testimony  of  conscience  can  be  deceived  by  such  a 
view  ?  Must  a  man  not  be  already  blind  to  the 
difference  between  right  and  wrong  who  does  not 
regard  with  profound  distrust  every  assertion  or 
insinuation  to  the  effect  that  they  are  alike  neces- 
sary, alike  essential  to  the  order  and  harmony  of 
the  universe  ?  Will  he  not  demand  rigid  proof  for 
every  assertion  or  insinuation  of  the  kind  ?  If  he 
demand  it,  he  will  certainly  not  obtain  it.  It  is 
easy  to  show  that  there  is  a  rational  and  harmon- 
ious connection  between  light  and  darkness,  heat 
and  cold,  and  all  the  other  so-called  polarities  of 
nature ;  that  they  come  from  the  same  mind,  be- 
long to  the  same  system,  and  work  together  to  the 
same  end  ;  that  their  conflicts  are  only  apparent, 
while  their  co-operation  is  real.  But  no  man  has 
ever  proved  that  truth  and  falsehood,  virtue  and 
vice,  are  similarly  connected.  Many  have  asserted 
it.  None,  however,  have  produced  other  evidence 
for  it  than  illusory  analogies,  or  deductions  from 
false  premisses.  Conscience  pronounces  sin  that 
which  is  not  necessary — that  which  ought  not  to 
be.     Reason  declares  it  unreasonable,  and  finds 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  AistJictic  Enjoynient.     403 

that  it  is  never  in  and  of  itself  a  means  to  good, 
whatever  good  may  spring  from  opposition  to  it. 
Right  and  wrong  are  absolutely  exclusive  of  each 
other.  There  can  be  no  compromise  between  them, 
or  reconciliation  of  them.  They  cannot  blend  and 
merge  into  any  common  higher  result.  The  one 
can  only  be  satisfied  by  the  annihilation  of  the 
other.  All  this  pantheism  is  logically  necessitated 
to  deny,  but  in  so  doing  dashes  itself  against  a 

I  might  now  proceed  to  consider  the  moral  char- 
acter of  the  optimism,  the  historical  fatalism,  the 
glorification  of  war,  the  hero-worship,  and  the  con- 
tempt for  weakness,  poverty,  and  suffering  virtue, 
which  pantheism  generates  ;  but  I  have  elsewhere 
done  this  so  fully,^  that  I  shall  leave  this  part  of 
my  subject  without  further  remark,  and  pass  from 
where  the  dogma  we  are  examining  is  weakest  to 
where  it  is,  perhaps,  strongest. 

It  has  often  been  observed  that  pantheism  exer-\ 
cises  a  special  attraction  over  aesthetic  and  artistic 
natures.  It  appeals  more  effectively  to  the  emo- 
tional susceptibility  than  to  the  conscience.  For 
while  it  refrains  from  representing  God  as  a  moral 
personality,  it  exults  in  describing  Him  as  a  plastic 
force  which  fills  the  universe  with  forms  of  beauty 
and  s;randeur, — the 

^Philosophy  of  History  in  France  and  Germany,  pp.  1S9-206. 

404  Anti-Theistic  Theoj'ies. 

"Eternal  spring 
Of  life  and  death,  of  happiness  and  woe, 
Of  all  that  chequers  the  phantasmal  scene 
That  floats  before  our  eyes  in  wavering  light." 

Now  there  are  many  minds  in  which  the  sense  of 
beauty  is  stronger  than  the  conviction  of  obhga- 
tion, — which  are  more  pained  by  the  contempla- 
tion of  aesthetic  deformity  than  of  moral  evil, — 
which  are  repelled  by  the  thought  of  God  as  a 
Governor  and  Judge,  yet  attracted  by  the  thought 
of  Him  as  the 

*'  Soul  of  those  mighty  spheres 
Whose  changeless  paths  thro'  heaven's  deep  silence  lies  ; 
Soul  of  that  smallest  being, 
The  dwelling  of  whose  life 
Is  one  faint  April  sun-gleam." 

It  is  quite  natural  that  such  minds  should  be  taken 
captive  by  a  system  which  does  not  disturb  them 
with  admonitions  about  sin  and  retribution,  pardon 
and  grace,  and  holiness ;  but  which,  while  adding 
to  their  interest  in  nature  and  human  life,  allows 
them  to  rest  in  the  admiration  of  beauty  as  devo- 
tion to  God.  This  is  not,  however,  because  the 
sense  of  beauty  misleads  in  itself,  or  is  in  excess 
even  in  those  who  are  thus  deceived.  The  explan- 
ation of  their  fall  is  no  excellence,  but  a  defect.  It 
is  not  because  of  the  vividness  and  susceptibihty 
of  their  aesthetic  sympathies  that  those  to  whom  I 
refer  become  pantheists,  and  adore  a  God  who  has 

Pa?  I  theism  in  relation  to  ^Esthetic  Enjoyment.     405 

life  and  activity  but  no  moral  attributes ;  it  is  be- 
cause of  the  comparative  feebleness  and  deadness 
of  their  moral  principles.  It  is  not  because  their 
sense  of  beauty  is  too  strong,  and  they  are  exqui- 
sitely alive  to  the  charms  of  nature  ;  but  because 
their  sense  of  duty  is  too  weak,  and  they  are 
strangely  insensible  to  the  hatefulness  of  sin  and 
to  the  claims  of  righteousness.  It  is  because  their 
minds  are  one-sided  and  ill-balanced,  and  especially 
because  reverence  for  holiness  is  not,  as  it  ought  to 
be,  the  central  conviction  of  their  souls.  There 
can  be,  I  need  scarcely  say,  no  true  piety  which 
rests  on  sympathy  with  the  beautiful  to  the  exclu- 
sion of  reverence  for  moral  excellence,  or  even  in 
which  aesthetic  emotions  are  not  subordinated  to 
moral  convictions.  A  being  like  man,  who  lives 
continually  under  moral  law,  cannot  safely  luxu- 
riate in  a  mere  religion  of  beauty. 

But  while  this  is  to  be  kept  in  mind,  it  must  also 
be  maintained  that  theism,  rightly  apprehended, 
can  sustain  and  satisfy  all  sensibilities  to  beauty 
not  only  as  well  as  pantheism,  but  much  better. 
It  fully  recognises  the  truth  in  virtue  of  which 
pantheism  attracts  aesthetic  natures,  although  it 
recognises  other  truths  as  of  still  greater  moment. 
Its  acknowledgment  of  God  as  a  personal  moral 
Governor  and  Judge  does  not  prevent  its  also  ac- 
knowledging that  He  creates  with  plastic  hand  all 
lovely  things,  adorns  even  the  desert  flower,  born 

4o6  Anti-Theisiic  Theories. 

to  blush  unseen  by  any  eye  but  His  own,  and 
elaborately  moulds  and  delicately  tints  even  the 
tiniest  creatures  in  the  depths  of  the  ocean,  be- 
cause His  own  character  spontaneously  impels 
Him  to  make  His  works  beautiful,  and  divinely  to 
rejoice  over  what  is  beautiful.  When  poetry  rep- 
resents God  as  present  and  operative  in  nature 
— wheeling  the  silent  spheres,  shining  in  the  sun, 
hurling  the  tempest  forth,  feeding  and  guiding  His 
creatures,  or  speaking  in  the  reason  and  conscience 
of  man — some  are  ready  to  pronounce  it  panthe- 
istic. They  are  not,  however,  to  be  commended 
or  imitated.  It  is  not  pantheism  to  show  forth  the 
omnipresence  of  God."  To  say  that  it  is,  is  to  do 
gross  injustice  to  theism.  Only  a  theism  falsely 
so  called  will  refuse  cordially  to  endorse  whatever 
language  merely  helps  us  to  realise  that  God  fills 
and  pervades  His  creation,  and  that  in  Him  it  lives 
and  moves,  and  has  its  being.  We  must  take 
some  other  view  of  pantheism  than  one  which 
would  compel  us  to  include  the  psalmists  and 
prophets  of  Israel,  Christ  and  His  apostles  and 
their  followers  in  all  ages,  among  its  expositors 
and  adherents. 

All  the  power,  then,  which  pantheism  possesses 
to  satisfy  the  aesthetic  capacities  of  man,  theism 
also  possesses.  But  it  possesses  far  more.  Behind 
nature  it  shows  us  not  only  a  plastic  force,  but  a 
perfect  spirit.     And  this  should  increase  our  en- 

Panthcisvi  in  relation  to  ^stJictic  Enjoyment.     407 

joyment  of  nature — even  of  mere  physical  nature 
— which  is  beautiful  to  us  in  proportion  as  we  per- 
ceive in  it  reflections  of  the  graces  of  spirit.  Physi- 
cal things  must  be  all  the  more  sublime  and  fair 
for  disclosing  to  the  mind  the  majesty,  the  love, 
and  tenderness  of  a  perfect  spirit.  It  is  only  in 
such  a  spirit  that  the  mind  can  perceive  an  ideal 
of  spiritual  beauty.  A  perfectly  holy  spirit  must 
be  a  perfectly  beautiful  spirit,  and  the  system 
which  presents  to  us  an  infinite  spirit,  perfect  in 
all  holy  beauties,  can  alone  completely  satisfy  the 
aesthetic  mind.  It  necessarily  and  directly  re- 
sponds to  the  aesthetic  no  less  than  to  the  moral 
nature  of  men.  It  may  call  its  disciples  to  work, 
indeed,  rather  than  to  enjoy,  but  the  work  which  it 
prescribes  is  to  realise  a  perfect  ideal.  It  teaches 
to  yearn  for  that  beauty  of  universal  holiness  of 
which  material  beauty  is  but  the  shadow.  The 
God  of  pantheism  is  no  spiritual  ideal,  and  .can 
demand  from  worshippers  no  spiritually  ideal  life. 
Further,  pantheism,  it  seems  to  me,  has  a  nat- 
ural tendency  to  vitiate  and  destroy  art  by  de- 
priving it  of  a  moral  basis  and  moral  motives.  I 
admit  that,  in  so  far  as  it  is  antagonistic  to  atheism, 
or  deism,  or  even  a  merely  scholastic  theism,  it 
fosters  art.  Probably  in  all  ages  in  which  art  has 
flourished  the  pantheistic  spirit  has  been  more  or 
less  influential.  Yet  it  appears  obvious  that  the 
decided  predominance  of  pantheism,  and  still  more 

408  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

its  exclusive  sway,  would  be  as  fatal  to  art  as 
even  atheism  or  deism.  It  would  lead  straight  to 
belief  in  the  moral  indifference  of  art,  and  would 
favour  the  rise  and  spread  of  merely  naturalistic  or 
sensuous  schools  of  poetry  and  painting.  It  could 
not  sustain  the  faith  to  which  art  owes  its  highest 
achievements,  and  which  can  alone  maintain  it  in 
the  vigour  of  perennial  youth  —  the  faith  that 
**  earth  fills  her  lap  with  treasures  not  her  own," — 
that  there  is  no  pathos  equal  to  that  of  moral  con- 
flict, and  no  sublimity  equal  to  that  of  moral 
achievement, — that  natural  beauties  are  suggestive 
of  spiritual  perfections.  Were  our  poets  to  breathe 
no  finer  ether  than  that  which  pantheism  supplies, 
they  might  for  a  time  give  us  songs  of  luscious 
sweetness  and  intoxicating  delight,  but  the  inevit- 
able foulness  of  corruption  would  appear  at  length. 
It  is  of  singers  who  have  been  inspired  from  a 
loftier  and  purer  source  that  m.en  will  say — 

"  Blessings  be  on  them,  and  eternal  praise, 
Who  gave  us  nobler  loves  and  nobler  cares — 
The  Poets,  who  on  earth  have  made  us  heirs 
Of  truth  and  pure  delight  by  heavenly  lays." 

Would  pantheism  not  lead  painters  into  such  an 
aesthetic  and  ethical  heresy  as  that  their  highest 
achievements  were  to  be  won  through  the  repre- 
sentation of  mere  nature,  or  even  of  mere  nudity } 
And  were  any  such  heresy  to  become  general ; 
were  our  painters  not  to  remember  that  they  have 

PantJteisin  in  relation  to  Philosophy.        409 

higher  work  to  do  than  to  portray  the  unripe 
graces  of  a  Cupid,  or  the  sensuous  charms  of  a 
Venus  ;  should  they  fail  to  realise  that  to  become 
truly  great  in  their  profession  they  must  be  able 
to  understand  and  interpret  what  is  spiritually  and 
morally  significant,  and  that,  consequently,  they 
must  possess,  along  with  other  gifts,  the  power  of 
spiritual  and  moral  vision,  —  then,  assuredly,  the 
painter's  noble  art  would  soon  become  degraded 
in  the  unworthy  hands  of  those  who  professed  to 
cultivate  it. 


We  have  now  seen  how  pantheism  is  related  to 
religion,  to  morality,  and  to  art.  Let  us  further 
consider  how  it  is  related  to  thought  itself,  or  to 
what  is  called  philosophy, — i.e.,  thought  at  its  best 
— the  highest  thought  on  the  highest  themes. 

Pantheism  has  always  exerted  a  powerful  attrac- 
tion on  speculative  intellects.  It  has  drawn  not  a 
few  of  the  ablest  of  them  closely  and  entirely  to 
itself.  The  secret  of  Its  power  over  them  is  not 
difficult  to  discover.  Pantheism  professes  to  have 
reached  what  philosophy  aspires  to  attain.  It 
claims  to  know  and  to  make  known  the  one  prin- 
ciple from  which  all  dependent  existence  is  logi- 
cally and  necessarily  derived, — the  one  principle  to 
know  which  is  to  know  everything.      It  pretends 

410  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

to  have  reached  an  absolute  unity  from  which  it 
can  show  how  the  entire  worlds  of  existence  and  of 
knowledge  have  been  evolved.  Now  all  philosophy 
strives  after  unity.  It  is  its  aim,  its  task,  to  reduce 
complexity  to  simplicity,  the  many  to  the  one.  It 
is  not  to  be  wondered  at  if  it  should  often  imagine 
that  its  dream  has  been  realised  ;  if  it  should  be 
ready  to  believe  that  its  desires  have  been  fulfilled. 
The  search  after  absolute  knowledge  has  ended 
with  many  in  their  acquiescence  in  some  form  of 
pantheism.  The  search  itself  is  inevitable,  for  its 
cause  lies  in  the  very  nature  of  knowledge.  It  has 
been  truly  enough  said  that  "  to  know  is  to  limit ; " 
and  yet  nothing  is  more  characteristic  of  know- 
ledge than  that  it  is  impossible  to  assign  to  it  any 
external  or  objective  limits.  There  are  few  propo- 
sitions, perhaps,  which  more  need  to  be  thought- 
fully appreciated  than  just  this, — The  only  ascei^- 
tainable  limitations  of  reason  in  the  investigation 
of  truth  a7'e  those  whieh  are  inherent  in  its  own 
constitution.  Reason  has  its  limits  in  its  own 
laws.  It  is  the  business  of  psychology  and  logic 
to  discover  what  these  laws  are.  When  they  are 
known  the  powers  of  reason  are  known,  because 
,  reason  can  never  claim  to  be  irrational.  It  is  use- 
less, however,  to  attempt  to  mark  off  the  external 
or  objective  boundaries  of  rational  research  ;  use- 
less to  attempt  to  draw  a  line  in  the  outward  uni- 
verse, beyond  which  all  will  be  a  terra  incognita, 

PantJicisiii  in  relation  to  PJiilosopJiy.        411 

and  within  which  all  is  explicable.  There  is  ab- 
surdity— self-contradiction — in  the  very  attempt. 
To  draw  a  line  separating  the  knowable  from  the 
unknowable  we  must  have  already  done  what  we 
affirm  to  be  impossible, — known  the  unknowable. 
We  cannot  draw  a  boundary  unless  we  see  over  it. 
There  can  be  no  within  for  us  where  there  is  no 
without.  We  can  set  no  limit  to  anything  if  we 
know  that  there  is  nothing  beyond  it.  We  cannot 
say  that  any  fact  or  doctrine  whatever  is  in  itself, 
or  in  its  own  nature,  unknowable ;  because  to  have 
a  right  to  say  this  we  should  require  to  know  it  in 
itself  or  in  its  own  nature  ;  and  if  we  could  know 
it  thus,  it  manifestly  could  not  be  unknowable. 
There  can,  in  fact,  be  nothing  unknowable  in  itself, 
— nothing  unknowable  for  reason  in  itself.  There 
can  be  no  other  unknowable  for  reason  than  the 
irrational  or  self-contradictory — which  is  to  say, 
there  is  nothing  really  unknowable,  since  the 
irrational  or  self-contradictory  is  known  as  that 
in  wdiich  there  is  nothing  to  know.  Thus  in 
all  knowledge  there  is  not  only  limitation,  but 
comprehension  of  what  is  within,  and  apprehen- 
sion of  what  is  without,  the  limit.  And  the  appre- 
hension which  transcends  limitation  while  imply- 
ing it,  can  never  be  absorbed  into  or  exhausted  by 
the  comprehension  which  is  defined  by  limitation 
while  implying  the  unlimited.  The  apprehension 
of  the  unlimited,  thus  accompanying,  in  every  act 

412  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories. 

of  knowledge,  the  comprehension  of  the  limited, 
forces  on  the  mind  at  every  moment  the  conscious- 
ness that  beyond  the  little  which  we  comprehend 
there  is  ahvays  more  to  be  comprehended.  A  con- 
sciousness, generally  unreflective,  of  the  relation- 
ship of  the  finite  to  the  infinite,  as  thus  implied  in 
the  very  nature  of  knowledge,  is  the  profoundest 
and  most  powerful  stimulus  to  the  continuous  and 
indefinite  progress  of  knowledge.  But  is  there  any 
wonder  that  it  should,  in  certain  minds,  lead  not 
only  to  progress,  but  to  discontent  with  such  pro- 
gress as  they  find  themselves  capable  of  making .'' 
To  feel  one's  self  at  every  step  as  if  in  contact  with 
the  infinite,  and  yet  to  be  able  to  grasp  only  some 
small  fragment  of  the  finite  ;  to  be  always  haunted 
by  the  absolute,  yet  always  to  come  clearly  face  to 
face  merely  with  the  relative  ;  to  pursue  what  one 
never  exactly  reaches  ;  to  find  that  in  no  direc- 
tion has  our  labour  an  assignable  end, — is  apt  to 
become  painful,  and  especially  painful  to  those  who 
are  most  given  to  reflection,  and  most  possessed  by 
the  craving  for  truth.  What  can  be  more  natural 
than  that  some  of  those  who  thus  suffer  should  not 
only  seek  relief  by  endeavouring  to  attain  to  a  dis- 
tinct and  independent  knowledge  of  the  absolute 
and  unconditional  ground  of  all  derivative  exist- 
ences and  secondary  truths,  but  succeed  in  per- 
suading themselves  that  they  had  found  both  this 
relief  and  this  knowledge  t     There  will  always  be 

PantJicism  in  relation  to  PJiilosopJiy.        413 

some  to  whom  the  hope  of  an  absolute  science, 
such  as  pantheism  promises,  will  be  the  most  se- 
ductive that  can  be  presented. 

If  this  hope  had  been  less  seductive — if  the  pro- 
mise, "Your  eyes  shall  be  opened,  and  ye  shall 
be  as  gods,"  had  not  been  to  certain  minds  a  very 
powerful  temptation, — the  essential  futility  of  pan- 
theism must  have  been  long  ago  recognised.  Un- 
less strongly  biassed  in  its  favour,  men  could  not 
have  failed  to  see  that  it  is  as  little  fitted  to  satisfy 
the  intellect  as  to  satisfy  the  heart  and  conscience. 
History  of  itself  would  have  shown  them  this.  It 
exhibits  pantheism  as  bearing  on  its  very  face  the 
most  suspicious  marks  of  illegitimacy.  For  pan- 
theism has  appeared  only  in  a  succession  of  dis- 
connected, or  very  loosely  connected,  systems, 
which  do  not  supplement,  but  contradict,  one 
another.  In  all  its  purer  and  more  self-consistent 
forms  it  has  been  no  more  than  the  private  doc- 
trine of  some  individual  philosopher,  or  of  a  little 
school  of  persons  who  have  consented  to  accept 
him  as  an  authority.  No  school  of  the  kind  has 
flourished  long,  owing  to  the  arbitrariness  and  in 
coherence  characteristic  of  all  pantheistic  creeds. 
What  a  contrast  does  pantheism  present  in  this 
respect  to  theism,  the  history  of  which  is  a  single, 
uninterrupted,  ever  -  progressive,  ever  -  expanding 
movement !  Pantheism  is  a  sporadic  and  con- 
tracted phenomenon ;    theism    is    permanent   and 

4H  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

comprehensive.  The  former  has  at  particular  sea- 
sons given  satisfaction  for  a  short  time  to  individ- 
uals and  parties ;  the  latter  has  been  an  unfailing 
strength  and  joy  to  all  classes  of  men  in  all  ages. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  perceive  reasons  why  pan- 
theism should  not  have  been  more  to  humanity 
than  what  history  shows  it  to  have  been.  It  is 
because  it  has  radical  defects,  which  bring  it  into 
necessary  conflict  with  reason.  It  goes  fatally 
astray  at  the  very  outset.  The  absolute  unity 
which  it  seeks  is  a  mere  delusion,  a  mere  dream. 
There  is  no  path  either  to  it  or  from  it.  The 
absolute  unity  as  conceived  of  by  pantheism 
is  something  entirely  indeterminate  —  something 
which  has  no  distinctive  characteristics,  and  of 
which,  prior  to  its  self- manifestation  or  develop- 
ment, nothing  can  be  definitely  affirmed  or  denied 
— yet  which,  by  an  inherent  necessity,  progres- 
sively determines  itself,  and  evolves  out  of  itself 
all  distinctions  and  all  definite  objects,  so  as  to 
constitute  the  whole  universe  of  being  and  thought, 
the  infinite  and  the  finite,  the  necessary  and  the 
contingent,  the  material  and  the  spiritual.  But 
this  unity  is  a  mere  idol  of  the  mind.  Belief  in  it 
is  intellectual  idolatry.  The  hope  of  ever  reaching 
it  is  consummate  folly. 

The  absolute  unity  of  pantheism  has  been  con- 
ceived of  in  all  sorts  of  ways,  but,  no  matter  how 
conceived  of,  diversity,  multiplicity,  the  actual  uni- 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  PJiilosophy.        415 

verse  as  we  know  it,  has  ever  been  derived  from  it 
only  by  surreptitiously  dealing  with  it  as  if  it  were 
the  opposite  of  what  it  is  pretended  to  be — as  if  it 
were  not  absolutely  one,  but,  on  the  contrary,  as 
multiple  and  complex  as  what  is  deduced  from  it. 
And  it  could  not  be  otherwise,  because  from  ab- 
solute unity  nothing  but  absolute  unity  can  come, 
or  rather  absolutely  nothing  can  come. 

There  are  pantheists  who  have  sought  absolute 
unity  in  a  material  principle,  and  who  have  con- 
structed systems  of  what  is  called  materialistic 
pantheism.  Such  pantheism  is  essentially  identi- 
cal with  materialism  ;  and  every  objection  which 
applies  to  materialism  at  all  tells  against  it  in  the 
form  of  materialistic  pantheism.  Order,  life,  mind, 
and  morality  are  all  facts  as  unexplained  by  mate- 
rialism when  professing  to  be  monism  as  when 
confessing  itself  to  be  multitudinism.  For  it  is  the 
profession  which  is  erroneous,  and  the  confession 
which  is  correct.  Unity  can  never  be  reached  by 
materialistic  pantheism,  nor  can  variety  ever  be 
explained  by  it.  For — as  I  had  occasion  to  insist 
when  discussing  materialism — there  is  no  real  one- 
ness known,  or  even  conceivable,  in  matter.  The 
purest  physical  element  is  no  real  unity,  but  a 
plurality  or  aggregation  of  parts,  each  of  which  is 
as  much  a  unity  as  the  whole.  Every  particle  of 
the  purest  physical  element  is  distinct  from  every 
other.     And  no  single  absolutely  pure  physical 

41 6  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

element  can  be  imagined  as  producing  an  element 
different  in  kind  from  itself.  Such  production 
would  be  absolute  creation,  and  creation  without  a 
cause.  Further,  matter  absolutely  one  must  be 
matter  which  is  entirely  indeterminate.  But  there 
is  no  evidence  for  the  existence  of  such  matter. 
The  only  reasons  ever  produced  for  belief  in  its 
existence  have  been  worthless  metaphysical  sub- 
tilties.  And  if  it  did  exist,  it  would  explain 
exceedingly  little.  Far  from  accounting  for 
or  dispensing  with  mind,  it  would  at  every  step 
imply  and  demand  it.  Plato  and  Aristotle  con- 
vinced themselves  that  the  material  universe  must 
have  an  uncreated  basis,  called  by  the  former 
"  nurse "  and  "  receptacle,"  and  by  the  latter 
"first-timber"  and  "the  underlying;"  but  both 
had  the  perspicacity  to  see  that  such  ultimate 
matter  could  at  the  most  be  merely  a  condition 
and  possibility  of  things;  that  it  must  receive 
reality,  forms,  and  attributes  from  an  eternal  and 
active  Reason  ;  that  to  suppose  it  to  give  rise  to 
definite  objects  and  organisms,  and  finally  to  gen- 
erate intelligence,  was  an  opinion  which  no  thought- 
ful mind  could  entertain. 

There  are  pantheists  who  have  sought  the  abso- 
lute unity  in  physical  force,  and  who  have  con- 
structed systems  of  dynamical  pantheism.  They, 
too,  have  searched  and  laboured  in  vain.  Mere 
force  is  as  unintelligible  as  mere  matter.     Is  there 

PantJicisDi  in  relation  to  Philosophy.         417 

a  force  which  is  the  force  of  no  being  or  thing  ? 
If  there  is  not,  clearly  the  absolute  cannot  be  in 
mere  force  ;  and  I  am  not  aware  that  any  person 
has  shown  that  there  is — that  there  can  be  action 
without  an  agent.  And  if  it  were  proved,  absolute 
unity  would  be  far  from  reached.  Every  physical 
force  is  necessarily  divisible  force,  and  has,  there- 
fore, no  strict  essential  unity.  And  a  physical 
force  strictly  one  in  kind  can  no  more  produce 
diversity  than  can  a  single  physical  element.  It 
may  be  supposed  to  have  a  law  within  it  necessi- 
tating action,  and  that  law  must  be  in  it  all,  and 
must  necessitate  everywhere  the  same  action,  a 
dreary  monotony  of  change,  out  of  which  no 
variety  can  come. 

There  are  pantheists  who  have  conceived  of  the 
absolute  unity  under  the  similitude  of  organic  life. 
To  them  the  universe  has  presented  itself  as  a  vast 
organism,  everywhere  instinct  with  a  self-develop- 
ing vitality.  But  surely  there  can  be  neither 
unity  nor  absoluteness  in  a  life  which  is  insepar- 
able from  physical  conditions,  confined  within 
organic  limits,  and  which  grows  like  a  plant  or 
an  animal.  Anthropomorphism  may  be  a  poor 
theory,  but  it  must  be  better  than  phytomorphism 
or  zoomorphism.  To  conceive  of  the  absolute 
after  the  analogy  of  a  plant  or  a  beast  may  be 
poetical,  but  it  is  so  plainly  irrational  as  to  call 
for  no   discussion. 

2  D 

41 8  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

None  but  superficial  thinkers,  however,  have 
believed  that  the  type  of  absolute  unity  was  to 
be  found  in  the  physical  or  organic  world.  The 
material,  the  dynamical,  and  the  organic  forms  of 
pantheism  have  only  had  admirers  among  those  in 
whose  minds  speculation  is  in  its  infancy.  Ele- 
vated and  comprehensive  intellects,  when  they 
have  unhappily  adopted  pantheism,  have  almost 
always  become  metaphysical  pantheists.  Let  us 
look,  therefore,  at  the  central  ideas  of  some  of  the 
metaphysical  forms  of  pantheism. 

There  is  a  pantheism  which  places  absolute 
unity  in  absolute  being,  and  which  represents  the 
worlds  of  sense  and  of  consciousness  as  illusions. 
Finding  that  it  cannot  explain  variety  by  unity,  it 
sacrifices  variety  to  unity,  so  far  as  it  is  possible 
for  the  human  mind  to  do  this.  It  maintains  that 
there  is  no  real  being  but  one,  and  that  all  the 
objects  of  ordinary  experience,  and  all  the  distinc- 
tions of  the  common  understanding,  are  illusions. 
This  has  been  the  doctrine  of  men  of  great  specu- 
lative genius,  and  is  as  consistent  a  theory  of  pan- 
theism as  has  yet  been  devised.  On  at  least  two 
grounds,  however,  it  may,  I  think,  be  safely  pro- 
nounced a  failure.  First,  it  admits  that  besides 
the  one  real  being  there  are  appearances  or  illu- 
sions. But  even  appearances  or  illusions  are 
phenomena  which  require  to  be  explained.     And 

Pantheism  in  r'elation  to  Philosophy.        419 

they  cannot  be  explained  on  the  hypothesis  of 
absolute  unity.  They  imply  that  besides  the  abso- 
lute being  there  are  minds  which  can  be  haunted 
by  appearances,  and  which  can  be  deluded  into 
believing  that  these  appearances  are  realities. 
Secondly,  the  pantheism  which  maintains  that 
there  is  no  being  except  one,  is  under  the  neces- 
sity of  allying  itself  with  a  scepticism  which  will 
not  allow  it  to  maintain  that  there  is  even  one 
being.  It  is  only  by  the  help  of  a  scepticism 
which  denies  the  validity  of  the  primary  percep- 
tions and  fundamental  laws  of  mind,  that  it  can 
undertake  to  show  that  plurality,  time,  and  change 
are  illusions.  But  such  scepticism  is  a  very  dan- 
gerous associate.  It  is  as  ruinous  to  any  one  sys- 
tem which  professes  to  be  a  system  of  truth  as  to 
any  other;  and  no  one  system  can  legitimately 
make  use  of  it  against  another.  If  philosophical 
scepticism  be  conclusive,  the  positive  assertions 
of  pantheism  must  all  be  arbitrary.  If  we  may 
not  believe  in  plurality,  neither  may  we  believe 
in  unity.  If  we  may  deny  that  time  exists,  not- 
withstanding that  it  is  a  necessary  condition  of 
thought,  we  may  equally  deny  that  eternity  exists, 
since  we  can  give  no  other  reason  for  our  belief  in 
the  existence  of  eternity  than  for  our  belief  in  the 
existence  of  time. 

There  is   another  pantheism   which,   instead  of 

420  Anti-Tlicistic  Theories. 

sacrificing,  like  the  one  just  mentioned,  all  variety 
to  unity,  endeavours  to  find  an  absolute  unity 
which  includes  all  variety.  It  rejects  the  view 
that  God  and  the  world,  mind  and  matter,  are  sub- 
stantially distinct,  and  maintains  that  there  is  but 
one  substance — "  that  which  exists  in  itself  and  is 
conceived  by  itself,  or,  in  other  words,  that  the 
conception  of  which  does  not  require  the  concep- 
tion of  anything  else  antecedent  to  it."  Infinite 
extension  and  infinite  thought  are  represented  by 
it  as  simply  attributes  of  this  substance,  and  all 
minds  and  bodies  as  modes  of  these  attributes.  It 
thus  traces  the  material  and  mental  worlds  back 
into  a  single  all-comprehensive  substance.  This  is 
the  kind  of  pantheism  which  was  expounded  with 
so  much  genius  by  Spinoza.  There  are  many  ob- 
jections to  it,  but  I  have  only  to  indicate  here  that 
what  it  proclaims  to  be  absolute  unity  is  nothing 
of  the  kind.  For,  first,  this  substance,  although  it 
can  be  conceived  pci''  se,  still  must  be  conceived. 
It  is  an  object  of  thought,  and  only  affirmed  to 
exist  in  virtue  of  being  an  object  of  thought.  The 
existence  of  substance  is  implied  in  the  essence  of 
substance  as  part  of  its  idea;  such  is  the  reason 
given  for  asserting  the  existence  of  substance.  But 
if  so,  we  have  obviously  here  not  one  thing  but  two 
things  —  substance  and  the  idea  of  substance — 
and  the  first  is  last  and  the  last  first.  These  two 
cannot  be  fused  into  one.     The  idea  of  substance 

PantJicisni  in  relation  to  PJiilosopJiy.        421 

cannot  be  resolved  into  the  substance  itself,  seeing 
that,  apart  from  the  idea,  there  is  no  warrant  for 
belief  in  the  existence  of  substance  ;  nor  can  sub- 
stance itself  be  resolved  into  its  idea,  since  it  is 
admitted  that  there  may  be  in  the  substance  itself 
an  infinity  of  attributes  of  which  we  have  no  idea, 
and  since,  if  substance  be  reducible  to,  or  convert- 
ible with  its  idea,  the  pantheism  of  substance  must 
be  false,  and  must  give  place  to  absolute  idealism. 
Secondly,  substance  cannot  be  known  per  se,  but 
only  through  properties  which  are  in  relation  to 
the  minds  that  know  them.  Nothing  can  be 
known  unless  it  has  qualities  which  can  be  appre- 
hended. But  if  this  be  the  case,  the  attributes 
and  modes  of  substance  are  its  aspects  towards 
minds,  and  hence  substance,  instead  of  explaining 
and  comprehending  minds,  implies  and  presup- 
poses them.  Thirdly,  if  we  waive  the  objection 
just  stated,  and  grant  that  the  attributes  of  sub- 
stance are  objectively  and  essentially  in  the  sub- 
stance itself,  manifestly  the  substance  can  no 
longer  be  thought  of  as  an  absolute  unity,  but 
only  as  an  aggregation  of  distinct  essences.  When 
Spinoza  maintained  that  extension  and  thought 
were  eternally  and  essentially,  but  not  substan- 
tially, distinct,  he  was  obviously  granting  a  real 
duality  and  affirming  a  merely  nominal  unity. 

There   is   another   pantheism   which,  perceiving 
the  defects  of  the  foregoing  theory,  places  absolute 

422  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

unity  In  the  absolute  identity  of  subject  and  ob- 
ject, of  the  ideal  and  the  real,  of  spirit  and  nature. 
It  holds  spirit  and  nature  to  be  fundamentally 
the  same — spirit  being  invisible  nature,  and  nature 
visible  spirit — and  refers  both  back  to  a  principle 
which  transcends  yet  comprehends  them,  which 
originates  and  constitutes  the  spheres  both  of 
thought  and  being,  and  by  its  self-evolution  forms 
the  entire  universe  into  an  organic  whole.  This 
is  the  central  idea  in  the  pantheism  of  ScheUing. 
It  is  not  one,  I  think,  which  will  bear  examination. 
P'or,  in  the  first  place,  what  it  affirms  to  be  the 
absolute  is  really  a  process  of  development,  or 
at  least  something  subject  to  growth — something 
which  advances  from  lower  to  higher,  from  worse 
to  better.  But  surely  everything  of  the  kind, 
whether  viewed  in  itself  or  as  a  process,  or  at 
its  latest  and  most  definite  stage  as  a  product, 
must  be  finite  and  relative.  Infinity  and  pro- 
gress, absoluteness  and  development,  are  mutu- 
ally exclusive  ideas.  Secondly,  the  identity  of 
subject  and  object  is  a  self-contradictory  phrase 
and  conception.  It  is  like  the  identity  of  black 
and  white,  odd  and  even,  male  and  female  ;  in 
other  words,  it  is  an  alleged  instance  of  the 
identity  of  correlatives.  But  just  in  so  far  as 
there  is  identity  there  is  not  correlation,  and  in 
so  far  as  there  is  correlation  there  is  not  identity. 
Thirdly,  the  human   mind   cannot  form  the  least 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  PhilosopJiy.        423 

notion  of  a  self-identical  subject-object.  All  con- 
sciousness involves  the  dualism  of  subject  and 
object.  It  is  only  realised  as  a  relation.  The 
terms  of  the  relation  may  be  self  and  a  modifica- 
tion of  self,  for  the  object  is  not  necessarily  apart 
from  or  out  of  the  Ego ;  but  wherever  there  is 
consciousness  there  is  relation,  and  wherever  there 
is  relation  there  is  dualism.  Consciousness  can 
no  more  transcend  the  dualism  of  subject  and 
object  than  a  man  can  get  away  from  himself 
Fourthly,  if  there  be  such  an  absolute  as  is 
alleged,  the  knowledge  of  its  existence  must  be 
identical  with  its  existence.  In  the  apprehension 
of  the  absolute  subject-object  there  must  be  no 
distinction  between  knowing  and  being.  But  this 
implies  that  the  knowledge  of  the  absolute  is 
not  only  unlike  any  knowledge  of  which  we  are 
conscious,  but  is  knowledge  of  which  we  can- 
not possibly  be  conscious — knowledge  which  an- 
nihilates our  consciousness  at  the  moment  that  it 
identifies  us  with  God.  Schelling  admitted  that 
his  absolute  could  only  be  apprehended  by  a  very 
peculiar  and  indescribable  act.  Certainly  any  de- 
scription he  gave  of  it  was  peculiarly  unintelligible 
and  absurd,  as  has  been  shown  in  a  masterly  man- 
ner by  Sir  Wm.  Hamilton  in  his  essay  on  the 
Philosophy  of  the  Unconditioned.  I  am  aware  that 
the  correctness  of  Sir  Wm.  Hamilton's  representa- 
tion has  been  challenged,  and  the  relevancy  of  his 

424  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

criticism  denied,  by  a  writer  who  has  made  an 
earnest  special  study  of  the  works  of  Schelling-;! 
but  I  cannot  find  that  any  essential  inaccuracy 
has  been  shown  to  exist  in  Sir  William's  account, 
although  it  may  be  granted  to  be  incomplete ; 
while  his  criticism  would,  it  seems  to  me,  remain 
substantially  applicable,  even  if  the  rival  but  not 
really  contradictory  version  as  to  what  Schelling 
taught  were  adopted.  Finally,  if  the  existence  of 
a  unity  of  the  sort  imagined  be  granted  to  be 
known,  it  must  still  be  explained  how  the  sub- 
ject and  object,  with  their  various  stages  and 
phases,  have  been  produced  by  and  from  it.  This 
is  a  task  which  has  not  been  successfully  accom- 
plished. The  attempts  made  by  Schelling  to  con- 
striLC,  as  he  called  it,  from  the  absolute  principle 
even  the  possible  world,  were  quite  fanciful.  He 
himself  confessed  that  he  was  wholly  unable  to 
explain  by  it  the  actual  world,  or  even  to  show 
that  there  was  real  existence.  He  spent  his  later 
life  in  labouring  to  build  up  a  theistic  system  to 
supplement  this  rather  serious  defect  in  his  earlier 

Many  pantheists  failing  to  find  a  satisfactory 
type  of  unity  either  in  physical  nature  or  in  a 
sphere    common    to    matter    and   mind,   have   en- 

^  See  the  paper  on  "  Schelling's  Life  and  Letters"  in  the  'Fort- 
nightly Review,'  Nov.  i,  1870  ;  and  that  on  "  Mr  G.  H.  Lewes  on 
Schelling  and  Hegel"  in  the  'Contemporary  Review,'  Sept.  1872, 
by  Mr  J.  S.  Henderson. 

Panthcisvi  in  relation  to  PJiilosopJiy.        425 

deavourcd  to  discover  it  in  mind  itself  :  while  they 
still  refuse  to  -accept  the  view  that  a  perfect  and 
personal  spirit  can  alone  account  for  the  universe. 
Hence  we  have  a  class  of  pantheisms  based  on 
such  conceptions  as  a  universal  Me,  an  absolute 
Idea,  and  unconditioned  Will,  &c.  These  forms 
of  pantheism  may  be  called  psychical  pantheisms, 
in  order  to  distinguish  them  from  those  which  I 
have  designated  physical  and  metaphysical. 

There  is  a  pantheism  which  describes  the  abso- 
lute principle  as  a  universal  Ego  which  compre- 
hends every  particular  Ego — a  pure  Me  which 
transcends  yet  manifests  itself  in  every  empirical 
Me  —  a  free  and  active  Selfhood  (Ichheit)  which 
posits  the  physical  world  as  not-self,  and  objecti- 
fies itself  in  the  moral  order  of  the  world.  But 
this  Ego  or  Me  is,  we  are  told,  not  a  person  ;  it 
becomes  conscious  only  in  individuals,  and  has  no 
existence  apart  from  the  world  which  it  originates. 
God  is  merely  another  name  for  the  moral  order 
of  the  world.  What  are  we  to  think  of  this  view, 
which  was  made  famous  by  Fichte }  What  I 
think  of  it  is  that  he  who  accepts  it  must  be 
very  easily  satisfied.  The  very  notion  of  a  uni- 
versal Ego — of  an  Ego  which  is  no  Ego  in  par- 
ticular, and  yet  which  is  every  particular  Ego — 
is  an  arbitrary  and  absurd  mental  fiction.  What 
cannot  know  itself  to  be  a  self — what  cannot  say 
Me  in  contradistinction  to  Thee — has  no  x\<A\t  to  be 

426  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

thought  or  spoken  of  as  an  Ego  or  Me.  All  that 
is  real  in  the  so-called  universal  Ego  is  the  multi- 
plicity of  definite  individuals  in  which  it  is  alleged 
to  attain  consciousness.  The  pure  Me  is  affirmed 
to  be  not  a  person,  and  to  have  no  self-conscious- 
ness, no  knowledge  of  itself  or  in  itself.  That  is, 
of  course,  so  much  the  more  reason  for  denying 
it  to  be  a  Me  at  all.  If  impersonal  and  uncon- 
scious it  may  be  an  entity  or  a  fiction — some  sort 
of  thing  or  some  sort  of  abstraction — but  it  must 
certainly  be  something  far  too  mean  and  poor  to 
be  called  an  Ego.  It  comes  to  consciousness,  it 
is  said,  in  each  empirical  Ego.  But  this  assertion 
must  be  distinctly  denied.  If  the  pure  Ego  is  not 
conscious  of  itself  in  itself,  neither  is  it  conscious 
of  itself  in  the  empirical  Ego.  The  empirical  Ego 
is  conscious  only  of  its  own  self.  Consciousness, 
in  fact,  knows  nothing  of  a  universal  unconscious 
Ego.  If  we  grant  the  existence  of  such  an  Ego, 
the  worlds  of  consciousness  and  perception  must 
still  be  shown  to  be  derivable  from  it.  In  this 
part  of  his  task  Fichte  is  admitted  on  all  hands 
to  have  utterly  failed.  The  physical  world,  in- 
deed, he  hardly  even  attempted  to  explain  ;  he 
sought  rather  to  explain  it  away. 

Shall  we  adopt,  then,  Hegel's  theory  of  the 
absolute }  He  reduced  everything  to  thought, 
and  deduced  everything  from  thought.  The 
material   and    the    moral  world,   nature   and    his- 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  PJiilosopJiy.        427 

tory,  science,  art,  and  religion,  are,  according  to 
him,  but  stages  of  an  idea,  apart  from  which  they 
have  no  existence,  by  the  movement  of  which  they 
are  constituted,  and  through  which  they  are  formed 
into  an  organic  and  logical  whole.  Hegel  professes 
to  give  us  a  philosophy  demonstrated  from  begin- 
nincr  to  end,  as  it  starts  with  the  absolute  first — the 
simplest  notion  of  reason — pure  being — and  thence 
derives  all  knowledge  and  evolves  all  reality  in  a 
continuous  process  of  reasoning  from  abstract  and 
implicit  to  concrete  and  explicit,  everywhere  deter- 
mined by  the  principle  of  the  identity  of  contraries. 
Vast  ingenuity  was  shown  in  the  elaboration  and 
application  of  this  notion,  but  I  have  only  to  do 
with  the  general  notion  itself,  which  need  not 
detain  us  long,  since  it  involves  all  that  is  most 
objectionable  in  the  view  of  Schelling  which  we 
have  already  given  reasons  for  rejecting.  It  rep- 
resents the  absolute  reality,  for  example,  as  the 
result  or  completion  of  a  process  of  development. 
This  is  of  itself  enough  to  warrant  its  condemna- 
tion. An  absolute  which  is  either  in  the  course  of 
being  developed  or  which  has  been  developed  is 
sheer  nonsense,  but  unfortunately  it  is  also  non- 
sense of  a  kind  which  leads  very  easily  to  mon- 
strous blasphemies.  Hegelianism  has  never  been 
able  to  show  that  the  only  idea  of  God  compatible 
with  its  principles  is  not  that  of  a  God  gradually 
evolved  from  unconsciousness  to  consciousness,  and 

428  Aiiti-TJieistic  Theories. 

thence  onwards  to  the  height  of  the  wisdom  of 
Hegel.  Then,  Hegel's  view,  like  Schelling's,  pro- 
ceeds throughout  on  the  assumption  of  the  identity 
of  thought  and  being — a  position  which  ought  not 
to  be  assumed  but  proved,  and  which  is  nowhere 
proved.  Can  it  be  proved }  Is  it  true }  No. 
Whatever  is  known  is,  and  whatever  is  may  be 
known  —  infinite  knowledge  must  be  coextensive 
with  infinite  existence  —  but  that  knowing  and 
being  are  identical  is  what  by  no  effort  of  mind 
can  be  rationally  conceived  or  believed.  Further, 
Hegel,  although  he  starts  with  a  conception  which 
allows  him  to  treat  his  thoughts  as  things,  can  only 
seem  to  explain  the  evolution  of  things  by  making 
absurdity  the  essence  of  reason  and  the  principle 
of  demonstration.  He  calmly  tells  us  that  ordi- 
nary and  formal  logic — those  principles  and  pro- 
cesses of  reasoning  to  which  we  owe  all  the  dis- 
coveries of  science  and  all  the  inventions  of  art — 
cannot  explain  the  concrete,  and  that  the  true 
philosopher  must  disregard  such  logical  laws  as 
the  axioms  of  identity  and  contradiction,  and  sub- 
stitute for  them  the  identity  of  contradictories.  In 
other  words,  he  undertakes  to  demonstrate  his 
system,  but  on  condition  that  we  accept  as  good 
reasonings  what  sane  judgment  pronounces  to  be 
bad  arguments.  He  professes  to  explain  the  gen- 
eration of  God,  man,  and  nature,  from  the  pure 
being  which   is   equivalent  to   pure   nothing ;   but 

Pantheism  in  relation  to  PhilosopJiy.        429 

it  is  on  the  assumption  that  contradiction  is  the 
essence  of  existence  and  of  reason.  Well,  no 
doubt,  pure  nothing  as  mother,  and  pure  absurd- 
ity as  father,  might  be  expected  to  beget  a  re- 
markable family,  and  have  done  so  in  the  dis- 
coveries of  Hegelianism.  But  true  reason  can,  I 
fear,  have  nothing  to  do  either  with  the  parents 
or  their  children.  It  must  still  continue  to  recog- 
nise Ex  iiihilo  nihil  Jit  as  an  axiom,  and  to  with- 
hold its  admiration  from  contradictions.  It  may 
be  added  that  true  reason  must  treat  impersonal 
thought — thought  without  a  thinker — and  uncon- 
scious thought,  or  thought  of  which  consciousness 
is  only  an  accident  —  an  acquisition  attained  in 
man — as  unthinkable  thought,  a  highly  ridiculous 
kind  of  thought,  closely  akin  to  the  pure  being 
w4iich  is  pure  nothing,  yet  possesses  the  power  of 
becoming  everything. 

Since  Hegel's  time  pantheism  has  decidedly 
gone  from  bad  to  worse.  Hegel  placed  the  abso- 
lute unity  in  reason  and  sought  to  deduce  every- 
thing from  reason,  although  he  unfortunately  mis- 
took unreason  for  reason  ;  but  those  who  have  come 
after  him  have  openly  likened  the  absolute  to  what 
is  devoid  of  reason  in  us — to  blind  Will  (Schopen- 
hauer), to  the  Unconscious  (Von  Hartmann),  to 
the  Irrational  (Bahnsen),  &c.  Thus  they  have 
transformed  pantheism  into  atheism  and  pessim- 
ism.    This  is  what  pantheism  has  developed  into ; 

430  Anti-Theistic  Theories, 

and  one  is  at  a  loss  to  conceive  what  can  come 
next.  Beyond  pessimism  and  the  glorification  of 
unreason  there  would  seem  to  be  nothing  but 
nihilism  and  the  worship  of  the  Devil.  I  have 
elsewhere,  however,  said  perhaps  enough  about 
the  views  of  the  absolute  given  by  the  pessimistic 
forms  of  pantheism. 

I  may  reaffirm,  then,  that  the  pretended  abso- 
lute unity  of  pantheism  always  turns  out,  when 
critically  examined,  to  be  a  unity  merely  in  name, 
and  otherwise  to  be  an  idol  of  the  imagination,  or 
at  least  a  thoroughly  inadequate  explanation  of 
the  universe.  The  fact  that  such  unity,  just  be- 
cause arbitrary  and  fictitious,  can  be  conceived 
of,  however,  in  a  great  variety  of  ways,  is  one  of 
the  main  sources  of  the  strength  and  permanence 
of  pantheism  speculatively  considered.  The  system 
is  a  very  Proteus.  In  any  one  form  it  is  weak  ;  but 
when  worsted  in  one  form  it  can  readily  appear 
in  another,  and  the  struggle  must  be  renewed. 
Or,  to  change  the  figure,  it  is  an  enemy  which 
is  neither  strong  in  attack  nor  in  direct  defence, 
but  which  is  skilled  in  the  art  of  retreat  and  pos- 
sessed of  numerous  cities  of  refuge.  None  of  these 
cities  stands  a  long  siege  ;  but  when  one  of  them  is 
taken  the  conqueror  has  often  the  mortification  of 
seeing  another  behind  it,  where  his  old  enemy  is 
blowing  trumpets  and  waving ,  flags,  as  if  he  had 
been  gaining  a  victory  instead  of  suffering  a  defeat. 

Consequences  of  Pantheism.  43 1 

Belief  in  pantheistic  unity  is,  if  my  argumenta- 
tion has  been  vahd,  intellectual  idolatry.  It  is  an 
idolatry  which  requires  us  to  make  the  most  enor- 
mous and  costly  sacrifices.  Let  us  consider  for 
a  moment  what  some  of  these  are.  First,  then, 
all  the  arguments  employed  by  theism  to  show 
the  existence  of  a  God  of  wisdom  and  righteous- 
ness must  be  discarded.  These  arguments  are  as 
relevant  against  pantheism  as  against  atheism. 
Now,  of  course,  no  one  can  reasonably  object  to 
their  rejection  after  refutation,  but  we  are  bound 
to  insist  that  they  be  not  rejected  until  they  are 
refuted, — that  they  be  proved  and  not  assumed  to 
be  inconclusive.  With  our  reasons  for  belief  in  a 
living  personal  God  the  belief  itself  must  neces- 
sarily be  abandoned,  and  instead  of  a  Father, 
Judge,  and  Redeemer,  we  must  be  content  with 
some  so  -  called  Absolute  which  neither  knows 
itself  nor  cares  for  us.  What  a  wretched  ex- 
change !  And  with  loss  of  belief  in  a  personal 
God  we  must  lose  all  the  hopes  and  assurances 
attached  to  that  belief,  and  become  burdened  with 
all  the  consequences  which  flow  from  its  denial. 
I  shall  not  attempt  to  transcribe  the  dismal  bal- 

Further,  pantheism  by  affirming  the  identity  of 
thought  and  existence  calls  on  us  to  sacrifice  all 
objects  of  thought  which  cannot  be  conceived  of 
otherwise  than  as  distinct  from  thought,  and  which 

432  Anti-TIieistic  Theories. 

must  be  first  presented  to  the  mind  before  they 
can  be  represented  by  it ;  while,  by  referring  the 
phenomena  of  matter  and  of  mind  to  one  sub- 
stance, it  requires  us  either  to  sacrifice  both  to  an 
indeterminate  existence  which  cannot  be  appre- 
hended nor  even  imagined,  or  at  least  to  sacrifice 
the  one  to  the  other.  But  we  cannot  make  sacri- 
fices of  this  kind  without  being  necessitated  to 
make  others  which  are  perhaps  still  greater.  If 
we  hold  fast  to  the  indeterminate,  and  persist  in 
evolving  from  it  both  the  material  and  mental 
worlds,  we  must  have  another  organ  of  apprehen- 
sion than  ordinary  men,  and  employ  a  different 
sort  of  logic  than  that  of  the  common  understand- 
ing. Our  minds  must  have  intuitions  and  pro- 
cesses which  are  entirely  superhuman — a  know- 
ledge which  transcends  consciousness,  and  a  dialec- 
tic which  is  independent  of  the  laws  of  thought. 
If,  on  the  other  hand,  we  suppress  either  matter  or 
mind,  it  can  only  be  by  an  application  of  scepticism 
which  we  are  logically  bound  to  repeat  and  to 
generalise  until  no  object  or  faculty  continues  to 
be  acknowledged  as  trustworthy.  Pantheism  in- 
evitably involves  either  mysticism  or  scepticism  ; 
and  both  mysticism  and  scepticism  mean  the 
sacrifice,  the  suicide  of  reason. 

Then  it  requires  us  also  to  regard  as  delusive 
the  consciousness  which  each  man  possesses  of 
being  a  self  or  person.    Whoever  knows  himself  as 

Consequences  of  Pantheism.  433 

a  self,  a  person,  knows  that  he  is  not  a  mere  part 
of  God  or  of  any  other  being  ;  he  knows  himself 
as  different  from  God  and  from  every  other  being. 
The  self-consciousness  which  is  in  each  man  can- 
not at  once  be  his  own  proper  self-consciousness 
and  the  self-consciousness  which  has  been  acquired 
bv  God.  Self-consciousness  is  sinc^le,  not  dual. 
But  there  are  millions  on  millions  of  self-conscious 
beings  or  persons  in  the  world.  And  pantheism, 
in  order  to  adhere  to  its  dogma  of  absolute  unity, 
must  contradict  the  testimony  borne  by  the  con- 
sciousness of  all  these  beings.  It  is  logically 
bound  to  affirm  that  each  of  them  is  under  a 
delusion  when  he  supposes  himself  to  be  truly  a 
self  or  person.  But  what  does  this  imply  }  Why, 
that  from  true  persons,  really  distinct  from  all 
other  beings — free,  responsible,  moral — it  must 
reduce  and  degrade  them  to  mere  semblances ,  for 
with  personality,  their  freedom  of  will,  responsi- 
bility, duty,  must  be  likewise  sacrificed.  I  should 
have  to  dwell  long  on  this  if  I  were  to  attempt  to 
exhibit  the  various  particulars  which  are  involved, 
and  therei*ore  I  must  be  content  with  the  mere 
general  declaration  that  pantheistic  unity  can  only 
be  attained  at  the  cost  of  the  abandonment  of  all 
the  fundamental  moral  convictions  and  spiritual 
aspirations  of  humanity. 

It  is  only  an  intellectual  idol  like  the  pantheis- 
tic unity  which  can  demand  sacrifices  so  numerous 
2  E 

434  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

and  enormous.  It  demands  them  just  because  it 
is  an  intellectual  idol — a  false  unity — a  unity  of  a 
kind  which  can  never  be  legitimately  attained.  We 
cannot  but  recognise  both  the  finite  and  the  infinite, 
the  relative  and  the  absolute,  the  contingent  and  the 
necessary ;  but  we  cannot  by  the  utmost  efibrt  of 
reason  reduce  them  to  one  absolute  essence  from 
which  the  whole  universe  of  thought  and  beinsf 
may  be  shown  to  have  necessarily  proceeded. 

The  highest  unity  to  which  the  finite  mind  can 
rise  is,  it  seems  to  me,  the  unity  of  a  single  crea- 
tive inteUigent  Will — the  one  infinite  personal 
God  of  theism.  To  this  unity  all  multiplicity 
may  be  traced  back.  It  is  no  abstract  and  dead 
unity,  but  one  which  is  real,  which  is  all-compre- 
hensive, which  fully  explains  both  the  unity  and 
variety  of  the  universe,  and  which  fully  satisfies  at 
once  the  demands  of  the  intellect  and  the  heart ; 
for  it  is  a  unity  which  contains  the  infinite  fulness 
of  power,  wisdom,  and  love.  It  is  an  absolute 
unity  in  the  only  sense  in  which  that  phrase  con- 
veys an  intelligible  and  credible  meaning — that  is 
to  say,  it  is  one  Being  which  is  self-existent  and 
self-sufficient,  which  is  entirely  independent  of 
every  other  being,  and  possessed  in  itself  of  every 
excellence  in  an  infinite  measure ;  while  it  is  the 
sole  and  free  source  of  all  finite  excellence. 
Whatever  the  pantheist  describes  as  an  absolute 
unity  must  be  one  and  absolute  in  some  way  much 

Thcistic  and  PantJicistic  Unity.  435 

inferior  to  this.  The  unity  of  matter,  the  unity  of 
force,  the  unity  of  all  that  is  unconscious  and  im- 
personal, is  unessential  and  derivative,  yea,  even 
illusory  if  separated  from  the  underlying  and 
original  unity  of  a  self-active  mind.  Only  that 
which  says  "  I  "  cannot  be  divided  or  supposed  to 
be  divided  ;  and  that  which  says  "  I,"  while  abso- 
lutely indivisible,  may  possess  an  infinite  wealth 
of  powers  and  properties.  The  absoluteness  of  an 
infinite  which  necessarily  originates  the  finite  is  a 
relative  and  dependent  absoluteness  ;  it  is  the 
absoluteness  of  a  being  which  is  not  self-sufficient 
— which  is  as  dependent  on  what  it  produces  as 
that  which  it  produces  is  dependent  on  it — which 
is  necessarily  related  to  the  finite — which,  although 
an  infinite  that  is  necessarily  and  completely  active, 
has  only  a  finite  result.  This  is  a  curious  absolute- 
ness; or  rather,  it  is  a  manifest  absurdity  which 
involves  the  negation  of  the  principle  of  causality 
and  of  every  other  principle  of  rational  thought. 
The  theist  keeps  free  from  it.  God  is  absolute  in 
the  view  of  the  theist,  because  He  alone  is  self- 
dependent  and  self-complete — because  He  stands 
in  necessary  relation  to  nothing  finite,  and  yet  can 
constitute  and  enter  into  all  relations  with  the 
finite,  which  He  chooses,  and  which  are  consist- 
ent with  His  intrinsic  perfections.  According  to 
theism,  whatever  is,  and  is  not  God,  is  a  creature 
of  God,  and    no  creature  of  God   has,  like  God, 

43^  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

necessary  existence.  According  to  theism,  God 
is  the  one  necessary  Being,  and  He  being  self- 
sufficient,  needs  no  other  beings  in  order  to  realise 
perfect  self-consciousness  or  to  secure  perfect  bless- 
edness. This  seems  to  me  a  much  more  consistent 
and  satisfactory  view  of  absoluteness  than  that  of 
the  pantheist. 

It  must  be  admitted,  of  course,  that  from  the 
unity  to  which  theism  refers  us,  an  absolute  science 
such  as  pantheism  promises  cannot  possibly  be 
deduced.  Alike  the  infinity  and  the  freedom  of 
the  single  supreme  will  make  it  impossible  that 
a  finite  mind  should  so  comprehend  it  as  to  be 
able  logically  to  determine  its  decisions  and  acts. 
In  the  very  knowing,  indeed,  that  there  is  a  God, 
we  know  that  lie  is  infinite,  eternal,  and  unchange- 
able, in  His  power,  wisdom,  and  holiness  ;  but  this 
knowledge  of  His  general  attributes  can  never 
justify  our  pretending  to  specify  what  must  be  His 
particular  doings,  or  to  maintain  more  than  that 
none  of  His  doings  will  be  found  to  be  unworthy 
of  His  character.  The  finite  mind  may  legiti- 
mately convince  itself  that  there  is  an  infinite 
mind,  but  it  can  never  so  comprehend  such  a  mind 
as  to  be  capable  of  speculatively  deducing  what 
it  can  or  must  or  will  do.  Absolute  science  is  the 
science  of  an  infinite  reason,  and  not  the  science 
which  can  be  attained  by  a  creature  like  man  ;  it 
is  knowledge  in  v/hich  there  is  no  distinction  be- 

PantJicisni  and  the  Llca  of  Creation.        437 

tween  comprehension  and  apprehension — in  which 
there  is  no  imperfection  or  incompleteness  —  on 
which  there  can  be  no  alteration,  and  to  which 
there  can  be  no  addition, — and  therefore  it  is 
knowledge  necessarily  and  for  ever  beyond  the 
reach  of  all  finite  intelligences.  "  Who  by  search- 
ing can  find  out  God  ?  Who  can  find  out  the 
Almighty  unto  perfection?" 

Pantheism  stumbles  at  the  idea  of  creation.  It 
affirms  that  creation  is  inconceivable,  and  infers 
that  it  is  impossible.  In  treating  of  materialism, 
I  have  indicated  that  the  assertion  is  equivocal  and 
the  inference  illegitimate.  But  another  argument 
has  been  employed.  The  idea  of  the  creation  of  a 
finite  universe  in  time  has  been  pronounced  dishon- 
ouring to  God,  as  implying  that  His  omnipotence  is 
to  a  large  extent  inoperative.  What,  we  are  asked, 
was  Omnipotence  doing  before  creation  }  How 
and  why  did  infinite  power  produce  only  a  finite 
eftect  }  Is  power  unused  not  power  wasted  .-*  Is 
there  not  something  irrational  and  repellent  in  the 
thought  of  an  omnipotence  which  originates  only 
a  limited  sum  of  results — which  has  no  adequate 
operation  or  object }  To  break  or  avoid  the  force 
of  these  questions  some  theologians  have  main- 
tained that  God  does  all  that  He  can — that  His 
activity  is  the  full  expression  of  His  ability  ;  and 
others  have  argued  that  nature  is  an  eternal  and 
infinite  creation.     These  are  views,  however,  which, 

43 S  Anti-TIieistic  Theories. 

far  from  warding  off  pantheism,  inevitably  tend 
to  it ;  and  they  grievously  offend  against  reason, 
which  declares  It  an  absurdity  that  even  an  infinite 
power  should  produce  an  infinite  effect  within  a 
finite  sphere — within  limits  of  time  and  space. 
Is,  then,  omnipotence  never  fully  exercised  ?  Is 
infinite  power  never  fully  productive  ?  We  have 
no  right  to  think  so.  Although  omnipotence  can- 
not express  itself  fully  In  the  finite  world  to  which 
we  belong,  the  Divine  nature  may  be  in  Itself  an 
infinite  universe  where  this  and  all  other  attributes 
can  find  complete  expression.  Is  either  God's 
power  or  His  activity  to  be  measured  exclusively 
by  the  production  or  support  of  beings  distinct 
from  Himself?  If  so,  obviously,  unless  His  power 
be  perpetually  and  completely  exercised  about 
finite  things,  His  activity  is  not  equal  to  His  power, 
and  He  Is  not  Infinitely  active,  but  only  infinitely 
capable  of  acting.  Even  Infinite  activity,  however, 
and  absolutely  Infinite  production,  cannot  be  rea- 
sonably denied  to  the  Divine  nature.  As  activity 
is  a  perfection,  infinite  activity  may  be  reasonably 
held  to  be  a  supreme  perfection  which  must  be 
ascribed  to  God.  If  an  absolutely  infinite  agent 
acts  according  to  all  the  extent  of  Its  absolutely 
infinite  nature.  It  must  necessarily  produce  an 
absolutely  infinite  effect  ;  the  effect  would  not 
otherwise  be  proportionate  to  the  cause.  The 
production  of  an  absolutely  infinite  effect  must  be 

PantJicisDi  and  the  Idea  of  Creation.        439 

a  far  greater  perfection  than  the  creation  of  any 
number  of  finite  effects,  and  the  mind  may  feel 
constrained  to  refer  such  production  to  God.  So 
be  it.  But  must  the  infinite  effect  fall  within  the 
realm  of  contingency,  of  time,  of  space.?  Must 
it  not,  on  the  contrary,  belong  to  the  sphere  of  the 
essential,  the  eternal,  the  absolute.?  Must  it  not 
lie  within  instead  of  without  the  Godhead  .?  Must 
it  not  be  such  an  effect  as  theologians  mean  when 
they  speak  of  the  eternal  generation  of  the  Word 
or  tJie  eternal  proeession  of  the  Holy  Spirit.?  It 
cannot,  I  think,  be  such  an  effect  as  external  crea- 
tion. God  can  never  find  or  produce  without  Him- 
self an  object  equal  to  Himself  and  fully  com- 
mensurate with  His  essential,  necessary  activity 
and  love.  The  Divine  nature  must  have  in  itself 
a  plenitude  of  power  and  glory  to  which  the  pro- 
duction of  numberless  worlds  can  add  nothing. 

Any  difficulties  not  merely  verbal  and  mani- 
festly superficial  which  pantheists  have  raised  as 
to  the  nature  of  the  Divine  personality  likewise 
lead,  I  believe,  to  the  conclusion,  not  that  we  should 
reject  theism,  but  that  we  should  reverence  and 
appreciate  more  highly  the  Christian  doctrine  of 
the  Trinity  —  a  mystery  indeed,  yet  one  which 
explains  many  other  mysteries,  and  w^hich  sheds 
a  marvellous  light  on  God,  on  nature,  and  on  man. 
I  have  appealed,  however,  throughout  this  course 
of  lectures,  only  to  reason  ;  and  I  am  quite  willing 

440  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

that  my  arguments  against  pantheism  and  all 
other  anti-theistic  theories,  as  well  as  my  argu- 
ments on  behalf  of  theism,  should  be  judged  of  by 
reason  alone,  without  my  reference  to  revelation. 

I  now  bring  these  lectures  to  a  close.  It  is  with 
the  trust  that  they  may  not  have  been  wholly 
unprofitable  to  you,  or  unaccompanied  by  the 
blessing  of  God.  To  His  name  be  honour  and 
glory  for  ever.     Amen. 


Note  I.,  page  3. 

The  terms  Theism,  Deism,  Atheism,  and 

There  is  considerable  uncertainty  as  to  the  derviation 
of  thebs,  the  term  from  which  comes  theism.  Herodotus 
(ii.  52)  traces  it  to  tithenai,  to  place  or  set  The  Pelas- 
gians,  he  says,  did  not  give  particular  names  to  their 
gods,  but  "  called  them  theoi,  because  of  having  placed 
{thelites)  all  things  in  order."  Were  this  etymology  cor- 
rect, the  recognition  of  order  was  what  moved  the  Pelas- 
gians  to  designate  the  objects  of  their  worship  theoi.  On 
this  supposition  the  Greek  name  for  God  was  an  im- 
mediate creation  of  the  teleological  principle — an  ex- 
pression or  deposit  of  the  design  argument.  Herodotus 
believed  it  to  be  so. 

Plato  (Cratylus,  xvi.  397)  derives  tJiebs  from  theein, 
to  run.  He  represents  Socrates  as  saying  that  "  the  first 
men  connected  with  Greece  considered  those  only  as 
gods,  whom  many  of  the  barbarians  at  present  regard  as 
such, — the  sun,  and  the  moon,  and  the  earth,  and  the 

442  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

stars,  and  the  heavens.  Now  as  they  perceived  all 
these  moving  and  running  round  in  a  perpetual  course, 
from  this  nature  of  running  they  called  them  gods  (aTro 
TavT7]<;  TTJs  cfiV(T€o)<5  Trj<i  Tov  Ouv  Oeov'i  avTOv<;  iTrovojUidcrai)  ; 
but  afterwards,  perceiving  that  there  were  others,  they 
called  them  all  by  the  same  name." 

When  the  philological  importance  of  Sanscrit  began 
to  be  realised,  the  derivations  of  the  term  from  Greek 
fell  into  disfavour,  and  it  was  almost  universally  sup- 
posed to  have  come  from  the  root  div  (shining),  like  the 
Sanscrit  deva,  Latin  deus,  diviis^  and  the  Greek  Zeus. 
This  derivation  is  now,  however,  rejected  by  some  of 
the  highest  authorities.  Schleicher  went  back  to  the 
etymology  suggested  by  Plato ;  Hainebach  has  defended 
that  given  by  Herodotus ;  and  Curtius  inclines  to  derive 
from  a  root  ^es  (to  beseech).  Fick  decides  in  favour  of 
a  Sanscrit  root  dhi.,  to  shine,  to  look,  to  be  pious.  If 
the  last  of  these  views  be  correct,  the  root  thought  of 
theos  and  deus  is  the  same,  although  each  has  had  its 
own  root-word.  It  seems  certain  that  they  cannot  have 
grown  out  of  the  same  verbal  root. 

Deism  is  distinguished  from  theism  by  probably  all 
recent  theologians  in  substantially  the  same  manner. 
Some  oppose  it  to  theism  ;  others  include  it  in  theism  as 
a  species  in  a  genus ;  but  this  does  not  prevent  their 
agreeing  as  to  the  distinction  to  be  drawn.  Deism  is 
regarded  as,  in  common  with  theism,  holding,  in  opposi- 
tion to  atheism,  that  there  is  a  God,  and,  in  opposition 
to  pantheism,  that  God  is  distinct  from  the  world,  but 
as  differing  from  theism  in  maintaining  that  God  is  sep- 
arate from  the  world,  having  endowed  it  with  self-sus- 
taining and  self-acting  powers,  and  then  abandoned  it  to 
itself.     Writing  of  my  previous  volume,  Mr  Bradlaugh 

Appendix:  Note  I.  443 

(Nat.  Ref.,  Jan.  6,  187S)  says:  "You  draw  a  distinc- 
tion between  deism  and  theism  (p.  91),  for  whicli  I  am 
not  aware  that  there  is  any  warranty.  Surely  both  deist 
and  theist  mean  precisely  the  same — viz.,  believer  in 
'  Deus,'  '  Theos/  '  God.'  You  may  have  any  qualifying 
words  to  express  the  character  of  the  belief,  as  Christian 
Theism,  or  Mahommedan  Theism,  but  I  do  not  under- 
stand that  the  use  of  the  Latin  or  Greek  form  conveys, 
or  ought  to  convey,  any  difterent  or  distinguishable 
meaning."  In  reply,  I  would  observe  that  the  distinc- 
tion is  not  at  all  of  my  drawing,  but  one  made  use  of  by 
all  contemporary  Christian  apologists.  The  distinction 
is,  further,  a  real  distinction,  yet  one  which,  so  far  as  I 
know,  there  is  no  suitable  qualifying  word  to  express. 
Terms  like  Christian  and  Mohammedan  certainly  do 
not,  as  they  merely  characterise  difterent  forms  of  theism 
proper,  or  at  least  of  theism  as  distinguished  from  deism. 
On  this  account  it  seems  to  me  that  the  distinction  would 
have  been  warranted  even  had  the  etymology  of  deism 
and  theism  been  the  same,  whereas  this  is,  as  has  been 
already  indicated,  extremely  doubtful. 

At  the  same  time  it  must  be  admitted  that  the  word 
''deist,"  when  used  m  the  manner  indicated,  may  occa- 
sion injustice.  It  may  be  confounded — and  in  fact  often 
is  confounded — with  a  difterent  application  of  the  term, 
—  with  what  may  be  called  its  historical  application. 
Christian  apologists,  as  a  rule,  when  speaking  of  the  so- 
called  "  English  deists,"  represent  them  as  having  denied 
that  God  was  present  and  active  in  the  laws  of  nature. 
This  is  erroneous  and  unfair.  One  or  two  of  them  may 
have  done  so,  but  certainly  what  as  a  body  they  denied 
was  merely  that  God  worked  otherwise  than  througli 
natural  laws.       It  is  curious  that  the  orthodox  writers 

442  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

stars,  and  the  heavens.  Now  as  they  perceived  all 
these  moving  and  running  round  in  a  perpetual  course, 
from  this  nature  of  running  they  called  them  gods  (aTro 
T<xvTy]%  T7]<s  cjivo-cwi  rrj<g  tov  Oelv  ^eovs  avTOv<;  iTrovofxao-ai)  ; 
but  afterwards,  perceiving  that  there  were  others,  they 
called  them  all  by  the  same  name." 

When  the  philological  importance  of  Sanscrit  began 
to  be  realised,  the  derivations  of  the  term  from  Greek 
fell  into  disfavour,  and  it  was  almost  universally  sup- 
posed to  have  come  from  the  root  div  (shining),  like  the 
Sanscrit  deva,  Latin  deus,  divus^  and  the  Greek  Zeus. 
This  derivation  is  now,  however,  rejected  by  some  of 
the  highest  authorities.  Schleicher  went  back  to  the 
etymology  suggested  by  Plato ;  Hainebach  has  defended 
that  given  by  Herodotus ;  and  Curtius  inclines  to  derive 
from  a  root  ^cs  (to  beseech).  Fick  decides  in  favour  of 
a  Sanscrit  root  dJii^  to  shine,  to  look,  to  be  pious.  If 
the  last  of  these  views  be  correct,  the  root  thought  of 
theos  and  dens  is  the  same,  although  each  has  had  its 
own  root-word.  It  seems  certain  that  they  cannot  have 
grown  out  of  the  same  verbal  root. 

Deism  is  distinguished  from  theism  by  probably  all 
recent  theologians  in  substantially  the  same  manner. 
Some  oppose  it  to  theism  ;  others  include  it  in  theism  as 
a  species  in  a  genus ;  but  this  does  not  prevent  their 
agreeing  as  to  the  distinction  to  be  drawn.  Deism  is 
regarded  as,  in  common  with  theism,  holding,  in  opposi- 
tion to  atheism,  that  there  is  a  God,  and,  in  opposition 
to  pantheism,  that  God  is  distinct  from  the  world,  but 
as  differing  from  theism  in  maintaining  that  God  is  sep- 
arate from  the  world,  having  endowed  it  with  self-sus- 
taining and  self-acting  powers,  and  then  abandoned  it  to 
itself.     Writing  of  my  previous  volume,  Mr  Bradlaugh 

Appendix:  Note  I.  443 

(Xat.  Ref.,  Jan.  6,  1878)  says:  "You  draw  a  distinc- 
tion between  deism  and  theism  (p.  91),  for  which  I  am 
not  aware  that  there  is  any  warranty.  Surely  both  deist 
and  theist  mean  precisely  the  same — viz.,  believer  in 
'Deus,'  'Theos,'  'God.'  You  may  have  any  qualifying 
words  to  express  the  character  of  the  belief,  as  Christian 
Theism,  or  Mahommedan  Theism,  but  I  do  not  under- 
stand that  the  use  of  the  Latin  or  Greek  form  conveys, 
or  ought  to  convey,  any  different  or  distinguishable 
meaning."  In  reply,  I  would  observe  that  the  distinc- 
tion is  not  at  all  of  my  drawing,  but  one  made  use  of  by 
all  contemporary  Christian  apologists.  The  distinction 
is,  further,  a  real  distinction,  yet  one  which,  so  far  as  I 
know,  there  is  no  suitable  qualifying  word  to  express. 
Terms  like  Christian  and  JMohammedan  certainly  do 
not,  as  they  merely  characterise  ditierent  forms  of  theism 
proper,  or  at  least  of  theism  as  distinguished  from  deism. 
On  this  account  it  seems  to  me  that  the  distinction  would 
have  been  warranted  even  had  the  etymology  of  deism 
and  theism  been  the  same,  whereas  this  is,  as  has  been 
already  indicated,  extremely  doubtful. 

At  the  same  time  it  must  be  admitted  that  the  word 
"deist,"  when  used  in  the  manner  indicated,  may  occa- 
sion injustice.  It  may  be  confounded — and  in  fact  often 
is  confounded — with  a  different  application  of  the  term, 
—  with  what  may  be  called  its  historical  application. 
Christian  apologists,  as  a  rule,  when  speaking  of  the  so- 
called  "  English  deists,"  represent  them  as  having  denied 
that  God  was  present  and  active  in  the  laws  of  nature. 
This  is  erroneous  and  unfair.  One  or  two  of  them  may 
have  done  so,  but  certainly  what  as  a  body  they  denied 
was  merely  that  God  worked  otherwise  than  througli 
natural  laws.       It  is  curious   that  the  orthodox  writers 

44^  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

Note  II.,  page  lo. 
Absolute  Atheism  implies  Infinite  Knowledge. 

The  passage  from  John  Foster  to  which  reference  is 
made  in  the  lecture  is  the  following :  "  The  wonder 
turns  on  the  great  process,  by  which  a  man  could  grow 
to  the  immense  intelligence  that  can  know  there  is  no 
God.  What  ages  and  what  lights  are  requisite  for  this 
attainment?  This  intelligence  involves  the  very  attri- 
butes of  Divinity,  while  a  God  is  denied.  For  unless 
this  man  is  omnipresent — unless  he  is  at  this  moment  in 
every  place  in  the  universe, — he  cannot  know  but  there 
may  be  in  some  place  manifestations  of  a  Deity  by  which 
even  he  would  be  overpowered.  If  he  does  not  abso- 
lutely know  every  agent  in  the  universe,  the  one  that  he 
does  not  know  may  be  God.  If  he  is  not  himself  the 
chief  agent  in  the  universe,  and  does  not  know  what  is 
so,  that  which  is  so  may  be  God.  If  he  is  not  in  abso- 
lute possession  of  all  the  propositions  that  constitute 
universal  truth,  the  one  which  he  wants  may  be  that 
there  is  a  God.  If  he  cannot  with  certainty  assign  the 
cause  of  all  that  he  perceives  to  exist,  that  cause  may 
be  a  God.  If  he  does  not  know  everything  that  has 
been  done  in  the  immeasurable  ages  that  are  past,  some 
things  may  have  been  done  by  a  God.  Thus  unless  he 
knows  all  things — that  is,  precludes  another  Deity  by 
being  one  himself— he  cannot  know  that  the  Being 
whose  existence  he  rejects  does  not  exist." — (Essays, 
p.  35,   15th  ed.) 

The  criticism  of  Mr  Holyoake  on  this  argument,  to 
which  reference  is  also  made  in  the  lecture,  will  be  found 

Appendix :  Note  IL  447 

on  pp.  75,  76  of  his  'Trial  of  Theism,'  1858.  "Two 
points,"  he  says,  "are  to  be  noticed.  Foster  puts  a 
strict,  an  arbitrary,  and  an  absolute  sense  upon  the  word 
'denial.'  Next,  that  he  introduces  a  false  element  into 
the  argument — that  of  pe7'sonal  knowledge — which  is  for- 
bidden to  the  atheist  when  he  introduces  it  into  reason- 
ing. A  single  remark  will  show  the  fallacy  of  this  as- 
sumption. It  is  quite  true  that  we  do  not  'know'  that 
God  does  not  exist;  it  is  also  true  that  no  theist  knows 
that  He  docs  exist.  If  I  ask  a  theist  the  question.  Have 
you  any  actual  knowledge  through  the  senses  that  God 
exists?  he  will  probably  tell  me  that  I  am  both  ignorant 
and  presumptuous.  He  will  remind  me  that  '  no  man 
hath  seen  God  at  any  time.'  He  will  tell  me  that  the 
existence  of  Deity  is  not  a  fact  of  the  senses — that  it  is 
not  a  matter  of  knowledge,  but  a  matter  of  revelation,  or 
an  argument  from  analogy — a  logical  inference — or  an 
intuition — or  a  feeling — or  a  question  of  probability, 
when  we  reason  inductively  from  causes  to  effects — or  a 
'necessity  of  the  intellect'  when  speculation  tires  on  the 
wing,  and  thought  has  exhausted  its  utmost  force.  If, 
therefore,  the  theist  is  without  the  knowledge  that  God 
does  exist,  why  should  Foster  demand  of  the  atheist  the 
knowledge  that  God  does  not  exist?  If  the  theist  refuses 
the  test  of  eyesight  for  his  affirmation,  why  does  he  de- 
mand it  of  the  atheist  for  his  'denial'?  If  the  theist 
may  use  argument,  why  not  the  atheist  ?  If  the  theist 
may  reason  and  can  reason  only  on  the  evidence  of  the 
intellect,  why  do  Foster,  Chalmers,  and  all  divines  de- 
mand from  the  atheist  evidence  of  the  senses?  The 
case  fairly  stated  stands  thus :  The  theist  says,  all 
things  considered — all  present  argument  weighed — it  is 
clear  to  me  that  God  exists.     The  atheist  says,  all  things 

44^  Aiiti-Thcistic  Theories. 

considered — all  present  argument  weighed — it  appears  to 
me  that  the  infinite  secret  is  beyond  our  finite  powers  to 
penetrate.  Foster  cannot  be  said  to  recognise  this  fact. 
He  refutes  our  position  by  evading  it ;  and  those  who 
do  not  know,  or  do  not  care  to  discern  what  it  is,  assume 
a  question  settled  which  indeed  is  not  truly  touched." 

It  often  happens  that  even  able  and  candid  men  at- 
tem])t  to  refute  arguments  which  they  have  failed  to 
understand.  Of  this  there  could  not  be  a  clearer  and 
more  striking,  almost  startling,  instance  than  these  words 
of  Mr  Holyoake.  It  is  impossible  to  read  them  without 
perceiving  that,  when  he  wrote  them,  he  had  not  the 
most  remote  conception  of  what  Foster  meant  or  aimed 
at.  He  plainly  did  not  perceive  that  Foster's  argument 
was  in  no  degree  or  respect  directed  against  critical 
atheism — against  what  Mr  Holyoake  calls  ''our  posi- 
tion"— but  entirely  and  exclusively  against  absolute  or 
dogmatic  atheism.  Failing  in  some  inexplicable  way  to 
perceive  this,  he  naturally  fell  into  those  curious  mistakes 
which  he  presents  as  criticisms. 

Chalmers's  restatement  of  Foster's  argument  is  pre- 
sented in  the  following  passage:  "To  be  able  to  say 
that  there  is  a  God,  we  may  have  only  to  look  abroad 
on  some  definite  territory,  and  point  to  the  vestiges  that 
are  given  of  His  power  and  His  presence  somewhere. 
To  be  able  to  say  that  there  is  no  God,  we  must  walk 
the  whole  expanse  of  infinity,  and  ascertain  by  observa- 
tion that  such  vestiges  are  to  be  found  nowhere.  Grant 
that  no  trace  of  Him  can  be  discerned  in  that  quarter  of 
contemplation  which  our  puny  optics  have  explored, 
does  it  follow  that,  throughout  all  immensity,  a  Being 
with  the  essence  and  sovereignty  of  a  God  is  nowhere  to 
be  found  ?    Because  through  our  loopholes  of  communi- 

Appendix :  Note  II.  449 

cation  with  that  small  portion  of  external  nature  which 
is  before  us,  we  have  not  seen  or  ascertained  a  God, 
must  we  therefore  conclude  of  every  unknown  and  un- 
trodden vastness  in  this  illimitable  universe  that  no 
Divinity  is  there  ?  Or  because,  through  the  brief  suc- 
cessions of  our  little  day,  these  heavens  have  not  once 
broken  silence,  is  it  therefore  for  us  to  speak  to  all  the 
periods  of  that  eternity  w^hich  is  behind  us,  and  to  say 
tliat  never  hath  a  God  come  forth  with  the  unequivocal 
tokens  of  his  existence?  Ere  we  can  say  that  there  is 
a  God,  we  must  have  seen,  on  that  portion  of  nature  to 
which  we  have  access,  the  print  of  His  footsteps,  or 
have  had  direct  intimation  from  Himself,  or  been  satis- 
fied by  the  authentic  memorials  of  His  converse  with 
our  species  in  other  days.  But  ere  we  can  say  that 
there  is  no  God,  we  must  have  roamed  over  all  nature, 
and  seen  that  no  mark  of  a  Divine  footstep  was  there  ; 
and  we  must  have  gotten  intimacy  with  every  existent 
spirit  in  the  universe,  and  learned  from  each  that  never 
did  a  revelation  of  the  Deity  visit  him ;  and  we  must 
have  searched,  not  into  the  records  of  one  solitary 
planet,  but  into  the  archives  of  all  worlds,  and  thence 
gathered  that,  throughout  the  wide  realms  of  immensity, 
not  one  exhibition  of  a  reigning  and  living  God  ever  has 
been  made.  .  .  .  To  make  this  out  w^e  should  need 
to  travel  abroad  over  the  surrounding  universe  till  we 
had  exhausted  it,  and  to  search  backward  through  all 
the  hidden  recesses  of  eternity ;  to  traverse  in  every 
direction  the  plains  of  infinitude,  and  sweep  the  out- 
skirts of  that  space  which  is  itself  interminable ;  and 
then  bring  back  to  this  little  w^orld  of  ours  the  report  of 
a  universal  blank,  wdierein  we  had  not  met  with  one 
manifestation  or  one  movement  of  a  presiding  God. 
2  F 

450  Anti-Theistic  Theories.- 

For  man  not  to  know  of  a  God,  he  has  only  to  sink 
beneath  the  level  of  our  common  nature.  But  to  deny 
Him,  he  must  be  a  God  himself.  He  must  arrogate  the 
ubiquity  and  omniscience  of  the  Godhead."  —  Natural 
Theology,  vol.  i.  b.  i.  ch.  ii. 

Note  III.,  page  19. 

In  '  A  Candid  Examination  of  Theism '  by  "  Physi- 
cus," the  argumentation  in  my  previous  volume  has  been 
subjected  to  a  lengthened  examination  (see  "Supple- 
mentary Essay  II.,"  pp.  152-180).  It  is  not,  perhaps, 
very  necessary,  yet  it  may  not  be  altogether  undesirable, 
to  make  a  few  remarks  on  the  criticisms  with  which  I 
have  been  honoured. 

Physicus  has  withdrawn  his  faith  from  theism  and 
transferred  it  to  the  metaphysical  physics  expounded  by 
Mr  Herbert  Spencer,  but  pronounced  scientifically  in- 
defensible by  such  physicists  as  Sir  W.  Thomson,  Clerk- 
Maxwell,  Balfour  Stewart,  Tait,  &c.  He  manifestly  de- 
sires to  be  impartial,  but  is  far  from  very  successful  in 
this  respect.  Thus,  at  the  very  outset  of  his  work  he 
tells  us  that,  "  with  the  partial  exception  of  Mr  Mill,  no 
competent  writer  has  hitherto  endeavoured,  once  for  all, 
to  settle  the  long-standing  question  of  the  rational  prob- 
ability of  theism;"  that  "a  favourite  piece  of  apologetic 
juggling  is  that  of  first  demolishing  atheism,  pantheism, 
materialism,  &c.,  by  successively  calling  upon  them  to 
explain  the  mystery  of  self- existence,  and  then  tacitly 

Appendix :  Note  III.  45  i 

assuming  that  the  need  of  such  an  explanation  is  absent 
in  the  case  of  theism — as  though  the  attribute  in  ques- 
tion were  more  conceivable  when  posited  in  a  Deity 
than  when  posited  elsewhere;"  and  that  "another 
argument,  or  semblance  of  an  argument,  is  the  very 
prevalent  one,  '  Our  heart  requires  a  God ;  therefore 
it  is  probable  that  there  is  a  God.' "  The  first  of  these 
statements  virtually  pronounces  incompetent  all  writers 
on  natural  theology,  except  Mr  Mill  and  Physicus;  the 
second  ascribes  to  theism  a  mode  of  reasoning  which  it 
has  never  employed ;  and  the  third  travesties  the  argu- 
ment which  it  declares  to  be  prevalent.  Such  errors 
are  extremely  common  in  the  pages  of  Physicus.  He 
is,  nevertheless,  an  interesting  writer. 

His  objections  to  the  reasoning  by  which  I  attempt 
to  show  that  on  no  plausible  theory  of  the  nature  of 
matter  can  it  be  concluded  to  be  self- existent,  or  any- 
thing more  than  an  effect,  arise  entirely  from  over- 
looking the  hypothetical  and  disjunctive  character  of 
my  argumentation.  Thus,  for  example,  he  censures 
my  having  "adopted  the  absurd  argument"  by  which 
Professor  Clerk-Maxwell  endeavours  to  show  that  atoms 
cannot  have  been  made  by  any  of  the  processes  called 
natural,  and  thinks  it  relevant  to  assert  that  the  atomic 
theory  is  probably  not  true.  Why,  my  approval  of 
Professor  Clerk-Maxwell's  argument  is  expressly  stated 
to  be  conditioned  by  the  supposition  that  the  atomic 
theory  of  the  ultimate  nature  of  matter  is  true,  while  I 
have  nowhere  indicated  that  I  myself  adopt  that  theory 
or  prefer  it  to  others.  The  same  remark  applies  to  his 
criticism  of  the  arrrmiient  founded  on  the  vortex-rinsr 
hypothesis  of  the  origin  of  matter,  as  to  which  he  has 
further  failed  to  perceive  that  it  rests  on  the  idea  of  a 

452  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

perfect  fluid.  His  notion  that  the  argument  as  to  the 
non- eternal  character  of  heat  impHes  a  knowledge  of 
the  universe  as  a  whole,  has  not  the  slightest  reason  or 
relevancy.  I  have  adopted  none  of  the  theories  alluded 
to,  as  I  should  thereby  have  weakened  my  argument 
and  represented  theism  as  dependent  on  some  partic- 
ular speculation  in  physics,  when  in  reality  its  evidence 
is  greatly  superior  to  what  can  be  brought  forward  for 
the  majority  of  scientific  doctrines.  I  merely  argued 
that,  from  any  plausible  theory  of  matter,  it  follows  that 
matter  is  not  to  be  regarded  as  self-existent ;  and  that 
the  reasoning  by  which  it  has  been  attempted  to  prove 
that  heat  is  non-eternal,  requires  to  be  refuted  by  those 
who  assert  or  assume  that  the  world  is  eternal. 

He  passes  from  that  part  of  my  work  which  he  has 
failed  to  understand,  in  consequence  of  disregarding  the 
theory  of  disjunctive  syllogisms  and  the  principles  of 
physics,  to  my  treatment  of  the  design  argument.  This 
he  admits  to  have  been  quite  conclusive  against  all 
opponents  until  he  himself  appeared.  "  For  this  argu- 
ment assumes,  rightly  enough,  that  the  only  alternative 
w^e  have  in  choosing  our  hypothesis  concerning  the  final 
explanation  of  things,  is  either  to  regard  that  explana- 
tion as  Intelligence  or  as  Fortuity.  This,  I  say,  was  a 
legitimate  argument  a  few  months  ago,  because,  up  to 
that  time,  no  one  had  shown  that  strictly  natural  causes, 
as  distinguished  from  chances,  could  conceivably  be  able 
to  produce  a  cosmos ;  and  although  the  several  previous 
writers  to  whom  Professor  Flint  alludes — and  he  might 
have  alluded  to  others  in  this  connection — entertained  a 
dim  anticipation  of  the  fact  that  natural  causes  might 
alone  be  sufficient  to  produce  the  observed  universe, 
still  these  dim  anticipations  were  worthless  as  arguments 

Appendix:  Note  III.  453 

so  long  as  it  remained  impossible  to  suggest  any  natural 
principle  whereby  such  a  result  could  have  been  conceiv- 
ably effected  by  such  causes.  But  it  is  evident  that 
Professor  Flint's  time-honoured  argument  is  now  com- 
pletely overthrown,  unless  it  can  be  proved  that  there  is 
some  radical  error  in  the  reasoning  whereby  I  have  en- 
deavoured to  show  that  natural  causes  not  only  may,  but 
must,  have  produced  existing  order.  The  overthrow  is 
complete,  because  the  very  groundwork  of  the  argument 
in  question  is  knocked  away ;  a  third  possibility,  of  the 
nature  of  a  necessity,  is  introduced,  and  therefore  the 
alternative  is  no  longer  between  Intelligence  and  For- 
tuity, but  between  Intelligence  and  Natural  Causation." 
From  words  like  these  one  would  suppose  that  Physicus 
had  discovered  a  quite  new  explanation  of  the  order  of 
the  universe.  But  no ;  when  we  turn  to  Chapters  iv. 
and  vi." — those  to  which  he  so  triumphantly  points  us — 
we  find  that  he  has  merely  to  tell  us,  what  materialists 
have  constantly  told  us,  from  Leucippus  and  Democritus 
downwards — namely,  that  "  all  and  every  law  follows  as 
a  necessary  consequence  from  the  persistence  of  force 
and  the  primary  qualities  of  matter,"  and  that  he  pre- 
sents to  us  a  number  of  loose  statements  to  this  eftect, 
singly  as  "  illustrations,"  and  collectively  as  a  ''  demon- 
stration," of  it.  If  the  design  argument  is  not  valid 
against  the  reasoning  in  these  chapters  it  was  never  valid 
in  any  reference.  Physicus  produces  no  particle  of  evi- 
dence to  show  that  force  is  a  ''  self-existent  substance  "  or 
"eternal  substratum,"  and  explains  in  no  single  case  how 
without  law  it  should  produce  law,  or  how  it  should  pro- 
duce order,  unless  so  defined  as  to  quantity,  so  dis- 
tributed, and  otherwise  so  conditioned,  as  to  presuppose 
intelligence.      The  root  of  a  large  amount  of  his  con- 

454  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

fusion  is  to  be  traced  to  his  entertaining  mythical  and 
anti-scientific  notions  about  "force"  and  "the  persist- 
ence of  force,"  which  a  deHberate  and  candid  perusal 
of  the  chapters  on  "  the  varieties  of  energy  "  and  "  the 
conservation  of  energy  "  in  any  good  treatise  on  Physics 
might  possibly  dissipate. 

The  criticisms  on  the  evidence  for  the  moral  attributes 
of  God  entirely  ignore  its  character  and  weight  as  a 
whole,  and  need  no  other  answer  than  that  the  sentences 
objected  to  should  be  restored  to  their  original  connec- 
tion and  interpreted  in  relation  to  their  context. 

It  is  impossible  to  read  the  following  passages  from 
the  work  of  Physicus  without  deeply  deploring  that  a 
blunder  in  physics  should  have  caused  so  much  con- 
fusion in  an  interesting  intellect,  and  inflicted  so  much 
pain  on  an  apparently  noble  nature : — 

"  If  it  had  been  my  lot  to  have  lived  in  the  last  genera- 
tion, I  should  certainly  have  rested  in  these  '  sublime 
conceptions'  as  an  argument  supreme  and  irrefutable. 
I  should  have  felt  that  the  progress  of  physical  know- 
ledge could  never  exert  any  other  influence  on  theism 
than  that  of  ever  tending  more  and  more  to  confirm  that 
magnificent  belief,  by  continuously  expanding  our  human 
thoughts  into  progressively  advancing  conceptions,  ever 
grander  and  yet  more  grand,  of  that  tremendous  Origin 
of  Things — the  Mind  of  God.  Such  would  have  been 
my  hope — such  would  have  been  my  prayer.  But  now, 
how  changed  !  Never  in  the  history  of  man  has  so  ter- 
rific a  calamity  befallen  the  race  as  that  which  all  who 
look  may  now  behold  advancing  as  a  deluge,  black  with 
destruction,  resistless  in  might,  uprooting  our  most 
cherished  hopes,  engulfing  our  most  precious  creed,  and 
burying  our  highest  life  in  mindless  desolation.     Science, 

Appendix :  Note  III.  455 

wliom  erstwhile  we  thought  a  very  Angel  of  God,  point- 
ing to  that  great  barrier  of  Law,  and  proclaiming  to  the 
restless  sea  of  changing  doubt,  '  Hitherto  shalt  thou 
come,  but  no  further,  and  here  shall  thy  proud  waves  be 
stayed,*  —  even  Science  has  now  herself  thrown  down 
this  trusted  barrier ;  the  flood-gates  of  infidelity  are  open, 
and  atheism  overwhelming  is  upon  us," — Pp.  51,  52. 

"So  far  as  the  ruination  of  individual  happiness  is 
concerned,  no  one  can  have  a  more  lively  perception 
than  myself  of  the  possibly  disastrous  tendency  of  my 
work.  So  far  as  I  am  individually  concerned,  the  result 
of  this  analysis  has  been  to  show  that,  whether  I  regard 
the  problem  of  theism  on  the  lower  plane  of  strictly 
relative  probability,  or  on  the  higher  plane  of  purely 
formal  considerations,  it  equally  becomes  my  obvious 
duty  to  stifle  all  belief  of  the  kind  which  I  conceive  to 
be  the  noblest,  and  to  discipline  my  intellect  with  regard 
to  this  matter  into  an  attitude  of  the  purest  scepticism. 
And  forasmuch  as  I  am  far  from  being  able  to  agree 
with  those  who  affirm  that  the  twilight  doctrine  of  the 
'  new  faith '  is  a  desirable  substitute  for  the  waning 
splendour  of  'the  old,'  I  am  not  ashamed  to  confess 
that,  with  this  virtual  negation  of  God,  the  universe  to 
me  has  lost  its  soul  of  loveliness ;  and  although  from 
henceforth  the  precept  to  '  work  vv^hile  it  is  day '  will 
doubtless  but  gain  an  intensified  force  from  the  terribly 
intensified  meaning  of  the  words  that  '  the  night  cometh 
when  no  man  can  work,'  yet  when  at  times  I  think,  as 
think  at  times  I  must,  of  the  appalling  contrast  between 
the  hallowed  glory  of  that  creed  which  once  was  mine, 
and  the  lonely  mystery  of  existence  as  now  I  find  it, — at 
such  times  I  shall  ever  feel  it  impossible  to  avoid  the 
sharpest  pang  of  which  my  nature  is  susceptible.     For 

456  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

whether  it  be  due  to  my  intelligence  not  being  suffi- 
ciently advanced  to  meet  the  requirements  of  the  age,  or 
whether  it  be  due  to  the  memory  of  those  sacred  associa- 
tions which  to  me,  at  least,  were  the  sweetest  that  life 
has  given,  I  cannot  but  feel  that  for  me,  and  for  others 
who  think  as  I  do,  there  is  a  dreadful  truth  in  those 
words  of  Hamilton, — Philosophy  having  become  a  medi- 
tation, not  merely  of  death,  but  of  annihilation,  the 
precept  knoiv  thyself  has  become  transformed  into  the 
terrific  oracle  to  CEdipus — '  Mayest  thou  ne'er  know  the 
truth  of  what  thou  art.'" 

Be  not  Martyrs  by  Mistake. 

Note  IV.,  page  t^Z. 
History,  Causes,  and  Consequences  of  Atheism. 

Few  works  were  written  expressly  against  atheism 
until  the  sixteenth  century  was  considerably  advanced. 
The  '  Antiatheon '  of  Fr.  Boria,  published  at  Toulouse  in 
1561,  the  '  Atheomachie '  of  De  Bourgeville,  published 
at  Paris  in  1564,  the  '  Atheomachie '  of  Baruch  Caneph, 
published  at  Geneva  in  1581,  and  the  '  Atheoraastix'  of 
G.  Ab.  Assonlevilla,  published  at  Antwerp  in  1598,  were 
among  the  earliest  specimens  of  the  class. 

Publications  of  this  kind  followed  one  another  in 
rapid  succession  during  the  seventeenth  century.  Among 
those  which  appeared  in  English,  the  following  may 
be  specified  :  Martin  Fotherby's  '  Atheomastix' (1622)  ; 
Walter  Charleton's  '  Darkness  of  Atheism  expelled  by 
the  Light  of  Nature'  (1652);  Henry  More's  'Antidote 
against  Atheism'  (1662);   Sir  Charles  Wolseley's  'Un- 

Appendix:  Note  IV,  4^7 

reasonableness  of  Atheism'  (1669);  J.  M.'s  'Atheist 
Silenced'  (1672);  John  Howe's  'Living  Temple,  against 
Atheism,  or  Epicurean  Deism'  (First  Part,  1675);  Ralph 
Cudworth's  *True  Intellectual  System  of  the  Universe, 
wherein  all  the  Reason  and  Philosophy  of  Atheism  is 
confuted,  and  its  Impossibility  demonstrated'  (1678), 
Richard  Bentley's  '  Boyle  Lecture :  A  Confutation  of 
Atheism'  (1692);  J.  Edwards's  ' Thoughts  on  the  Causes 
and  Occasions  of  Atheism  '  (1695);  and  A.  B.'s  '  Mystery 
of  Atheism,  or  the  Devices  to  Propagate  it'  (1699). 

A  continuous  stream  of  attacks  on  atheism  flowed 
from  the  press  all  through  the  eighteenth  century.  A 
mere  catalogue  of  them  would  fill  many  pages.  It  is  a 
fact  which  merits  to  be  carefully  noted,  that  during  the 
long  period  which  intervened  from  about  the  middle  of 
the  sixteenth  to  about  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury, notwithstanding  the  multitude  of  books  written 
against  atheism,  scarcely  any — perhaps  none — appeared 
in  its  defence.  Its  assailants  were  rather  at  war  with  a 
tendency  or  frame  of  spirit  prevalent  in  society,  than 
with  definite  forms  of  atheism,  strictly  so  called.  Their 
application  of  the  terms  atheism  and  atheist  was  generally 
very  loose — often  quite  reckless.  Epicureanism,  even 
when  combined  with  Deism,  Hobbism,  and  Spinozism, 
were  long  treated  as  the  chief  manifestations  of  atheism. 
There  were  probably,  however,  in  the  period  referred  to, 
a  large  number  of  real  atheists,  although  they  did  not 
consider  it  desirable  to  propagate  their  opinions  through 
the  printing-press. 

Attempts  were  early  made  to  sketch  the  history  of 
atheism,  as,  e.g.,  by  Niemann  in  1668,  Reiser  in  1669, 
Jenkins  Thomas  in  1709  (1716),  and  Reimann  in  1725. 
But  there  is  even  at  present  no  general  history  of  atheism 
of  much  value.     One  of  the  most  ridiculous  works  of 

45 S  Anti-TJicistic  Theories. 

a  historical  character  on  atheism  is  the  '  Dictionnaire 
des  Athees'  (1799),  by  the  enthusiastic  atheist,  P.  S. 
Marechal.  Here  Justin  Martyr,  Saint  Augustine,  Pas- 
cal, Bossuet,  Leibnitz,  and  the  most  virtuous  and  pious 
men  of  all  ages,  are  glorified  as  atheists.  In  partial 
excuse  it  must  be  remembered  that  Reimann,  in  the 
excess  of  his  Protestant  zeal,  has  enlarged  his  list  of 
atheists  with  Roman  Catholic  divines,  and  that  Ro- 
man Catholic  writers  have  frequently  relegated  tlie  re- 
formers and  other  Protestant  theologians  to  the  same 

From  the  very  rise  of  a  specifically  anti- atheistical 
literature,  the  desire  was  manifested  to  trace  the  causes 
of  atheism,  but  the  harsh  and  illiberal  mode  of  viewing 
differences  of  opinion  so  long  and  widely  prevalent,  had 
a  very  injurious  effect  on  the  investigation.  Much  that 
is  excellent  on  this  subject  will  be  found  vigorously  stated 
by  Prof  J.  S.  Blackie  in  his  '  Natural  History  of  Atheism  ' 

The  question,  whether  or  not  atheism  is  compatible 
with  morality  and  with  political  security  and  prosperity, 
was  keenly  and  fully  discussed  in  numerous  writings 
published  in  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth  centuries. 
The  history  of  this  controversy,  which  is  a  remarkable 
testimony  to  the  intellectual  influence  of  Machiavelli 
and  Bayle,  deserves  to  be  written.  It  seems  quite  for- 
gotten and  unknown  at  present. 

In  note  II.  of  Appendix  to  '  Theism,'  I  have  indicated 
the  works  in  which  the  relation  of  religion  to  morality 
seems  to  me  to  have  been  most  thoughtfully  discussed. 
Reference  may  also  be  made  to  the  paper  by  W.  H. 
Mallock  on  "  Modern  Atheism :  its  Attitude  towards 
Morality,"  in  the  'Contemporary  Review,'  Jan.  7,  1877. 

Appendix:  Note  V.  459 

Note  V.,  page  44. 
Laxge's  History  of  Materialism. 

The  only  general  History  of  Materialism  worthy  of 
mention  is  the  'Geschichte  des  Materialismus  '  of  F.  A. 
Lange.  Few  works  in  the  department  of  philosophy 
have  recently  attracted  so  much  attention  or  been  so 
highly  praised. 

It  everywhere  shows  clearness,  vigour,  and  critical 
acuteness  of  intellect,  a  wide  acquaintance  with  the 
positive  sciences,  a  competent  knowledge  of  the  writings 
of  the  chief  ancient  and  modern  materialists,  and  the 
power  of  natural  and  spirited  expression.  It  has  no 
claim,  however,  to  be  considered  as  in  any  sense  an 
epoch  -  making  book,  and  is  not  without  great  faults. 
Strictly  speaking,  it  is  not  a  history  of  materialism,  but 
a  history  of  science,  written  on  the  assumption  that  the 
whole  world  of  knowledge  can  alone  be  explained  by 
matter  and  mechanism.  It  is,  to  a  far  larger  extent,  an 
exposition  of  the  theories  and  a  discussion  of  the  prob- 
lems which  seem  to  its  author  to  bear  on  materialism, 
than  an  account  and  criticism  of  directly  materialistic 
speculations.  It  nowhere  gives  evidence  of  original 
research  or  great  erudition,  and  has  thrown  little  new 
light  on  any  period  of  the  history  the  course  of  which 
it  traces.  The  view  which  it  presents  of  the  history  of 
the  opposition  to  materialism  is  most  inadequate  through- 
out. The  ability  of  materialists  and  the  worth  of  their 
writings  are,  in  general,  overestimated. 

The  work  is  divided  into  two  books,  the  one  devoted 
to  materialism  before  Kant,  and  the  other  to  materialism 

4^0  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

since  Kant.  The  former  book  contains  four  sections. 
The  first  section  treats  of  materialism  in  antiquity,  or 
rather  in  classical  antiquity,  for  nothing  is  said  about 
the  materialism  of  China  or  India,  or  any  other  nation 
than  Greece  and  Rome.  The  special  subjects  of  its  five 
chapters  are — the  atomism  of  Democritus ;  the  sensa- 
tionalism of  the  Sophists  and  the  ethical  materialism  of 
Aristippus  ;  the  reaction  of  Socrates,  Plato,  and  Aristotle 
against  materialism  and  sensationalism;  the  doctrine  of 
Epicurus;  and  the  poem  of  Lucretius.  The  second 
section  is  occupied  with  the  transition  period,  which 
extends  from  the  decay  of  the  ancient  civilisation  to 
Bruno,  Bacon,  and  Descartes.  The  third  section  deals 
with  the  materialism  of  the  seventeenth  century,  and 
has  three  chapters,  which  are  devoted  respectively  to 
Gassendi,  as  the  restorer  of  Epicureanism ;  to  Hobbes ; 
and  to  Boyle,  Newton,  Locke,  and  Toland.  The  fourth 
section  treats  of  the  materialism  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury. It  contains,  first,  an  account  of  the  influence  of 
English  materialism  on  France  and  Germany;  next, 
an  exposition  of  the  materialistic  views  of  La  Mettrie ; 
then  an  analysis  of  Holbach's  ^  System  of  Nature ; ' 
and  finally,  an  estimate  of  the  reaction  against  material- 
ism in  Germany — an  estimate  which  takes  into  account 
the  philosophy  of  Leibnitz,  Wolfianism,  and  German 

The  second  book  of  Lange's  '  History  of  Materialism ' 
is  likewise  divided  into  four  sections.  Section  first 
discusses  the  Kantian  philosophy  in  its  relation  to 
materialism,  and  then  describes  the  phases  of  the  so- 
called  philosophical  materialism  propagated  by  Feuer- 
bach,  Max  Stirner,  Biichner,  Moleschott,  and  Czolbe. 
Section  second  consists  of  four  chapters,  which  have  for 

Appendix:  Note  V.  461 

their  subjects  the  bearing  of  materiaHsm  on  exact  re- 
search, the  relation  between  matter  and  force,  scientific 
cosmogony,  and  Darwinism  and  teleology.  The  third 
section  treats  of  man's  place  in  the  animal  world,  the 
relation  of  brain  and  soul,  scientific  psychology,  the 
physiology  of  the  organs  of  sense,  and  the  world  as 
representation.  The  last  section  deals  with  ethical 
materialism  and  religion. 

The  most  general  results  at  which  Lange  arrives  are, 
that  there  is  no  genuine  science  except  that  which 
explains  phenomena  in  terms  of  matter  and  motion ; 
that  all  our  mental  capacities,  and  even  the  laws  of 
intuition  and  thought,  must  be  traceable  to  the  elements 
and  organisation  of  the  brain;  that  all  material  objects, 
including  the  brain  and  the  organs  by  which  we  perceive, 
think,  and  will,  are  mere  phenomena  or  experiences; 
that  no  other  world  can  be  known  by  us  than  the  phe- 
nomenal and  empirical  world,  which  must  be  elucidated 
by  materialism  and  mechanism ;  that  philosophy  is  not 
science,  and  has  nothing  to  do  with  truth,  but  should  be 
cultivated  as  a  poetry  of  notions ;  that  religion  is  essential 
to  human  nature,  but  must  be  entirely  severed  from 
belief;  and  that  philosophy  and  religion,  when  thus 
understood,  will  afford  a  solid  basis  for  moral  and 
aesthetic  culture,  secure  social  progress,  and  vastly 
benefit  humanity.  The  doctrine  composed  of  these 
propositions  has  been  actually  hailed  by  a  rather  numer- 
ous class  of  persons  as  itself  a  philosophy  which  triumph- 
antly refutes  materialism,  and  worthily  completes  the 
work  of  Kant.  But  in  spite  of  their  noisy  and  foolish 
applause,  I  venture  to  affirm  that  if  German  philosophy 
should  have  for  its  ultimate  outcome  this  conglomerate 
of  materialism,  scepticism,  and  nonsense,  it  will  have  to 

462  Anti-TIieistic  Theories. 

be  regarded  as  the  greatest  fiasco  the  world  has  ever  wit- 

Lange's  history  has  been  translated  into  English  by 
jNIr  Thomas,  and  into  French  by  Professor  Nolen.  The 
French  translator  is  the  author  of  three  able  articles  on 
the  book — two  essays  published  in  the  'Revue  Philo- 
sophique'  (October  and  December  1877),  and  a  memoir 
read  before  the  Academie  des  Sciences,  Morales,  et 
Politiques,  and  published  in  a  separate  form  (Paris, 
Reinwald  &  Co.,  1877).  Vaihinger's  '  Hartmann,  Diih- 
ring,  und  Lange '  is  an  important  and  instructive  book, 
although  its  author  is  far  too  enthusiastic  an  admirer  of 

Note  VI.,  page  47. 
Chinese   Materialism. 

The  essay  of  Yang  Choo  was  translated  into  English 
by  Dr  Legge  in  the  prolegomena  to  the  edition  of  '  Men- 
cius,'  contained  in  his  Chinese  classics.  The  works  of 
Licius,  to  whom  it  owes  its  preservation  and  transmis- 
sion, have  recently  been  completely  translated  into 
German  by  Ernest  Faber,  in  his  '  Naturalismus  bei  den 
alten  Chinesen '  (1877). 

There  is  said  to  be  comparatively  little  theoretical 
materialism  in  China,  although  practical  materialism  is 
nowhere  more  prevalent.  We  know,  however,  very  little 
about  the  course  of  Chinese  thought  from  the  eleventh 
century  to  the  present  time.  Probably  Chinese  scholars 
have  at  length  done  something  like  justice  to  the  ancient 

Appendix:  Note  VII.  463 

classics  of  the  celestial  empire.  If  so,  it  is  extremely  to 
be  desired  that  they  would  now  direct  their  attention  to 
the  study  of  its  later  literature  and  philosophy. 

Note  VI I. ,  page  49. 
Hindu    Materialism. 

The  Charvaka  system  is  described  in  the  '  Sarva-Dar- 
sana-Sangraha/  which  has  been  translated  into  English 
by  Professor  Cowell.  The  part  of  the  work  which 
relates  to  the  Charvaka  doctrine  will  be  found  in  the 
'Pandit,'  vol.  ix.,  No.  103,  pp.  162-166. 

x\ll  the  Hindu  systems  of  philosophy,  except  Vedant- 
ism,  expressly  teach  the  eternity  of  a  material  principle 
from  which  the  universe  has  been  evolved,  but  they  also 
teach  the  eternity  of  soul.  The  Vaiseshika  system  is 
a  physical  philosophy  based  on  an  atomic  theory.  It 
explains  all  material  objects,  and  changes  by  the  aggre- 
gation, disintegration,  and  redintegration  of  uncaused, 
eternal,  imperceptible,  indivisible  atoms ;  but  it  differs 
from  the  atomism  of  Democritus  in  at  least  two  respects 
— it  assigns  to  the  atoms  qualitative  distinctions,  and  it 
does  not  represent  them  as  capable  of  constituting  souls. 
It  is  doubtful  whether  or  not  its  founder,  Kanada,  and 
some  of  his  followers,  believed  in  a  supreme  spirit.  Each 
soul  was  supposed  to  be  eternal,  and  infinitely  extended 
or  ubiquitous,  although  only  knowing,  feeling,  and  act- 
ing where  the  body  is.  The  Vaiseshika  aphorisms  of 
Kanada,   with  comments  from    two    Hindu   expositors, 

464  Anti-TJieistic  Theories, 

have  been  translated  by  Professor  A.  E.  Gongh  (Benares, 
1873).  For  general  accounts  of  the  system,  consult 
Colebrooke's  '  Essays,'  and  Monier  Williams's  '  Indian 

The  Sankhya  system  is  atheistical,  and  approaches 
nearly  to  materialism,  notwithstanding  that  it  affirms 
the  eternity  of  innumerable  distinct  souls.  It  assigns 
activity  and  self-consciousness  not  to  soul  but  to  nature. 
Its  general  doctrines  may  be  thus  summarised  :  i".  Its 
aim  is  to  make  impossible  human  pain  by  arresting  the 
course  of  transmigration.  2°.  It  professes  to  accom- 
plish this  by  means  of  science.  3°.  It  represents  science 
as  consisting  of  a  thorough  knowledge  of  the  developed 
principle  or  the  world,  of  the  undeveloped  principle  or 
nature,  and  of  the  soul.  4°.  It  also  represents  it  as  a 
knowledge  of  twenty-five  elements  of  things  and  cate- 
gories of  intelligence,  which  may,  however,  be  all  reduced 
to  nature  and  soul.  5°.  It  expresses  the  relations  of  the 
twenty-five  principles  to  one  another  in  the  following 
formula  :  "  Nature,  root  of  all,  is  no  product ;  seven 
principles  are  products,  and  productive;  sixteen  are 
products  only  ;  soul  is  neither  a  product  nor  productive." 

The  chief  sources  of  information  as  to  the  Sankhya 
philosophy  are  accessible  to  students  unacquainted  with 
Sanscrit.  Most  of  the  Sutras  of  Kapila  have  been  trans- 
lated into  French  by  B.  St  Hilaire,  in  the  '  Memoires  de 
rinstitut'  for  1852.  There  is  an  English  translation  of 
the  first  book,  as  also  of  a  Hindu  commentary  on  it,  by 
Dr  Ballantyne.  Of  the  valuable  production  called  the 
Karika,  there  are  no  less  than  five  European  translations 
— Lassen's,  Panthier's,  Windischman's,  Colebrooke's,  and 
St  Hilaire's.  The  volume  which  contains  Colebrooke's 
translation   comprises    also    two   commentaries   on   tlie 

Appendix:  Note  VI I L  465 

Karika, — one  by  Professor  H.  H.  Wilson  ;  and  another, 
which  he  has  rendered  from  the  vernacular  into  Eng- 
lish, and  is,  consequently,  a  book  of  the  highest  im- 
portance to  a  student  of  the  Sankhya  system.  It  was 
published  in  1837,  under  the  auspices  of  the  Oriental 

There  is  an  article  by  Dr  Muir,  on  "  Indian  Material- 
ists," in  the  *  Journal  of  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society,'  vol. 

Note  VIII. ,  page  54. 
Early  Greek  Materialism. 

See  Mullach's  '  Fragmenta  Philosophorum  Grae- 
corum,'  pp.  340-377,  for  what  remains  of  the  writings 
of  Democritus.  The  accounts  of  his  system  given  by 
Hegel,  Zeller,  Lange,  Grote,  and  Ferrier  may  be  speci- 
fied as  of  exceptional  ability  and  interest. 

Lange  connects  Empedocles  with  Democritus,  on  the 
ground  that  he  was  the  first  to  put  forth  the  idea  of 
the  gradual  natural  development  of  organised  beings. 
Anaximander  is  better  entitled  to  this  distinction.  His 
conception  of  development  was  also  much  more  like 
Darwin's  than  was  that  of  Empedocles,  inasmuch  as  it 
supposed  an  advance  from  simple  to  complex  forms,  or  a 
process  of  differentiation,  whereas  the  Empedoclean  view 
was  that  of  a  combination  of  heterogeneous  organs.  If 
the  great  merit  of  a  biological  hypothesis,  however,  be, 
as  Lange  fancies,  the  setting  aside  of  the  idea  of  final 
causes,  the  latter  notion  may  claim  a  certain  superiority : 
2  G 

466  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

indeed,  from  this  point  of  view,  absurdity  itselt  is  an 
advantage.  A  natural  orderly  development  cannot  pos- 
sibly help  to  disprove  the  existence  of  a  final  cause  or  of 
a  supreme  reason. 

I  have  elsewhere  had  occasion  to  make  the  following 
remarks  regarding  the  two  philosophers  above  men- 
tioned :  ''  Anaximander,  one  of  the  earliest  of  Greek 
philosophers,  working  out  his  idea  of  the  Infinite  or 
Unconditioned  being  the  first  principle  of  the  universe, 
arrived  both  at  a  sort  of  rude  nebular  hypothesis  and  a 
sort  of  rude  development  hypothesis.  From  the  aireipov, 
or  primitive  unconditioned  matter,  through  an  inherent 
and  eternal  energy  and  movement,  the  two  original  con- 
traries of  heat  and  cold  separate  :  what  is  cold  settles 
down  to  the  centre,  and  so  forms  the  earth ;  what  is  hot 
ascends  to  the  circumference,  and  so  originates  the  bright, 
shining,  fiery  bodies  of  heaven,  which  are  but  the  frag- 
ments of  what  once  existed  as  a  complete  shell  or 
sphere,  but  in  time  burst  and  broke  up,  and  so  gave 
rise  to  the  stars.  The  action  of  the  sun's  heat  on  the 
watery  earth  next  generated  films  or  bladders,  out  of 
which  came  different  kinds  of  imperfectly  organised 
beings,  which  were  gradually  developed  into  the  ani- 
mals which  now  live.  Man's  ancestors  were  fishlike 
creatures  which  dwelt  in  muddy  waters,  and  only,  as 
the  sun  slowly  dried  up  the  earth,  became  gradually 
fitted  for  life  on  dry  land.  A  similar  view  was  held  by 
the  poet,  priest,  prophet,  and  philosopher  Empedocles. 
He  taught  that  out  of  the  four  elements  of  earth,  air, 
fire,  and  water,  and  under  the  moving  power  of  Love 
resisting  Hate,  plants,  animals,  and  man  were  in  suc- 
cession, and  after  many  an  eftbrt,  and  many  a  futile 

Appendix:  Note  IX.  467 

conjunction  of  organs,  generated  and  elaborated  into 
their  present  shapes."— '  Philosophy  of  History,'  pp.  22, 
23,  where  the  authorities  for  these  statements  are  in- 

Note  IX.,  page  73. 
Epicurean    Materialism. 

For  Epicurus  and  his  doctrines  our  chief  sources  of 
information  are  the  writings  of  Diogenes  Laertius, 
Lucretius,  and  Cicero.  In  the  general  history  of  phil- 
osophy by  Maurice,  Lewes,  Zeller,  Ueberweg,  &c.,  Epi- 
cureanism is  well  discussed  :  also  in  Lange's  '  Geschichte 
des  Materialismus,'  and  Carrau's  '  La  Morale  Utilitaire ' 
(1875).  But  probably  the  most  important  work  on  the 
subject  is  Guyau's  '  La  ]\Iorale  d' Epicure  et  ses  rapports 
avec  les  doctrines  contemporaines'  (1878). 

The  study  of  Lucretius  owes  much  in  this  country  to 
Munro's  masterly  edition  of  the  '  De  rerum  natura.'  The 
literature  regarding  the  greatest  poet  of  materialism  is 
extensive.  I  must  be  content  to  specify  the  magnificent 
essay  on  the  genius  of  Lucretius  in  Professor  Sellar's 
'Roman  Poets  of  the  Republic;'  the  thoughtful  and 
beautiful  little  treatise  of  Professor  Veitch,  entitled 
'  Lucretius  and  the  Atomic  Theory  \ '  and  the  interesting 
volume  by  ]\Ir  Mallock  in  Blackwood's  "  Ancient  Classics 
for  English  Readers." 

468  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

Note  X.,  page  75. 
Materialism  in  the  Middle  Ages. 

Lange  devotes  eighty  pages  of  his  '  History  of  Mate- 
rialism '  to  the  middle  ages.  He  presents  to  us  in  them, 
however,  instead  of  a  properly  historical  narrative  and 
exposition,  merely  general  dissertations  on  the  relation 
of  the  monotheistic  religions  to  materialism  —  on  the 
Aristotelian  doctrine  of  matter  and  form  and  its  influence 
on  scholasticism — and  on  the  return  of  materiaHstic  views 
with  the  revival  of  the  sciences.  It  may  be  a  matter 
of  opinion  whether  these  dissertations  are  profound  or 
superficial,  clear  or  confused ;  but  no  person  who  has 
made  any  study  of  medieval  history  is  likely  to  regard 
them  as  learned.  The  author  obviously  knew  nothing 
whatever  at  first  hand,  and  little  even  at  second  hand, 
concerning  medieval  writers.  Hence  he  substitutes  for 
them  Humboldt  and  Liebig,  J.  S.  Mill,  Sir  W.  Hamilton, 
Trendelenburg,  Fortlage,  &c. 

A  history  of  theoretical  materialism  in  the  middle 
ages  could  not  be  written,  for  the  simple  reason  that 
there  was  none  to  write.  A  historical  account  might 
have  been  given,  however,  of  the  course  of  medieval 
thought  respecting  the  nature  of  matter  and  the  problem 
of  its  eternity  or  non- eternity ;  the  materialistic  views 
which  were  entertained  as  to  the  character  and  origin 
of  life  and  soul  might  have  been  indicated;  and  the 
manifestations  of  ethical  materialism  during  the  period 
might  have  been  described.  A  considerable  amount 
of  information  as  to  the  discussion  of  the  problem  of 
the  eternity  and  non -eternity  of  matter  will  be  found 

Appendix :  Note  XL  469 

in    Rabbi    Schmiedl's    '  Studien '    and    in     Ivaiifmann's 
'  Attributenlehre.' 

Note  XI.,  page  %-^. 

Materialism  of  the  Seventeenth  and 
Eighteenth  Centuries. 

Lange's  account  of  the  relation  of  Gassendi  to  mate- 
rialism seems  to  me  to  be  one-sided.  The  learned  and 
worthy  priest,  by  distinctly  maintaining  that  the  atoms 
of  matter  were  not  eternal,  and  by  elaborately  arguing 
that  they  merely  explained  physical  things — by  repre- 
senting them  as  created  ex  nihilo  by  the  Divine  Will — 
and  by  strenuously  defending  both  the  immateriality  and 
the  immortality  of  the  soul, — did  at  least  as  much  to 
dissociate  atomism  from  materialism  as  to  further  the 
cause  of  materialism  by  his  atomism.  He  may  be  fairly 
held  to  have  been  rather  the  precursor  of  that  long 
series  of  rational  assailants  of  materialism,  which  in- 
cluded in  England  such  men  as  Cudworth,  Henry 
More,  John  Smith,  Richard  Bentley,  &c.,  of  whom, 
strangely  enough,  Lange  appears  never  to  have  heard 
— than  the  coryphceuG  of  modern  materialism  itself. 
The  account  given  of  the  system  of  Gassendi  by 
Damiron  in  his  'Essai  sur  I'Histoire  de  la  Philosophie 
en  France  au  xvii®  siecle,*  (t.  i.),  is  fuller  and  truer. 

Lange  does  not  seem  to  have  been  aware  of  the 
attempts  made  by  Overton,  Dodwell,  and  Coward,  dur- 
ing the  seventeenth  century  and  the  early  years  of  the 
eighteenth    century,    to    prove   the    soul    material    and 

470  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

naturally  mortal,  or  of  the  discussions  to  which  these 
attempts  gave  rise. 

It  is  a  pleasure  to  be  able  to  recognise  that  Lange's 
account  of  the  French  materialism  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury is  at  once  extremely  able  and  generally  correct. 

Among  the  French  writers  belonging  to  the  latter  half 
of  the  eighteenth  century  who  may  fairly  be  classed  as 
atheists  were,  besides  La  Mettrie  (i  709-1 751)  and  Von 
Holbach  (i 723-1 789),  Diderot  (17 13-1784),  Helvetius 
(1715-1771),  D'Alembert  (1717-1783),  Lalande  (1732- 
1807),  Naigeon  (1738-1810),  Condorcet  (1743-1794), 
and  Marechal  (i  750-1803).  La  Mettrie,  Diderot,  Hel- 
vetius, and  D'Alembert  may  be  regarded  as  forming  an 
earlier,  and  Lalande,  Naigeon,  Condorcet,  and  Marechal 
a  later  group,  with  Von'  Holbach  as  the  connecting 

Diderot's  scepticism  assumed  the  form  of  materialistic 
atheism,  or  materialistic  pantheism,  only  after  he  be- 
came an  associate  of  Holbach.  He  is  the  subject  of 
two  elaborate  and  excellent  works — the  one  by  Rosen- 
kranz  and  the  other  by  J.  Morley.  Almost  half  a 
century  ago,  when  the  materials  for  forming  an  esti- 
mate of  his  character  were  much  less  abundant  than 
now,  and  wholly  unassorted,  it  was  divined  by  Mr 
Carlyle  with  the  true  insight  of  genius,  and  portrayed 
with  a  skill  which  has  not  since  been  matched. 

Helvetius  avoided  a  frank  avowal  of  materialism,  but 
his  entire  doctrine — one  deeply  stained  with  sensual  and 
selfish  principles — implied  it.  Perhaps  the  best  exposi- 
tion and  criticism  of  it  will  be  found  in  Cousin's  '  Hist, 
de  la  Phil.  Mor.  au  dix-huitieme  siecle,'  legons  iv.,  v. 

D'Alembert  gave  expression  to  his  views  regarding 
religion  only  in  his  private  conversation  and  correspon- 

Appendix :  Note  XL  47 1 

dence.  He  had  a  clear  perception  of  some  of  the  diffi- 
culties to  an  acceptance  of  materialism,  And  hence, 
notwithstanding  his  intimacy  with  Diderot,  his  unbelief 
assumed  rather  an  agnostic  than  a  materialistic  form. 
He  was  the  only  morally  worthy,  or  even  morally  decent 
man,  belonging  to  the  older  atheistical  group.  Its  three 
other  members  had  some  good  qualities,  but  they  were 
shamelessly  impure,  licentious,  and  untruthful.  It  is  a 
significant  but  lamentable  fact  that  sympathy  with  their 
sceptical  views  should  have  of  late  led  many  literary 
men  to  eulogise  their  characters,  to  exaggerate  their 
good  qualities,  and  to  ignore  or  excuse  their  vices. 

Lalande  is  known  almost  entirely  by  his  distinguished 
services  to  science  ;  but  he  actively  assisted  his  friend 
Marechal  in  propagating  atheism.  He  contributed 
largely  to  the  '  Dictionnaire  des  Athees.' 

Condorcet — a  man  of  noble  and  generous  nature — was 
an  enthusiast  for  the  philosophy  which  explains  every- 
thing by  matter  and  sensation.  In  my  article  "  Con- 
dorcet," in  the  '  Ency.  Brit.,'  a  general  view  of  his  life 
and  teaching  will  be  found,  with  references  to  the  best 
sources  of  information  regarding  him. 

Naigeon  and  Marechal  were  fanatical  preachers  of 
the  gospel  according  to  Diderot  and  Holbach.  The 
numerous  writings  of  both  are  at  present  deservedly  for- 
gotten ;  but  of  course,  in  a  time  when  the  literary  dis- 
coveries of  materialists  are  not  less  remarkable  than 
their  scientific  achievements,  no  one  can  be  sure  but 
that  Naigeon  may  be  speedily  announced  to  have  been 
equal  to  Newton — and  Marechal  to  have  really  been, 
what  he  aspired  to  be,  another  Lucretius. 

Laplace  was  reputed  to  be  an  atheist  by  some  of  his 
contemporaries.     In  his  writings  he  seems  to  have  stu- 

472  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

diously  refrained  from  the  expression  of  religious  opin- 
ion ;  and  this,  it  must  be  remembered,  at  a  time  when 
the  profession  of  atheism  was  a  passport  to  popularity. 

In  the  '  De  la  Nature'  (4  tom.  1761-66)  and  other 
works  of  Robinet,  an  ingenious  and  grandiose  theory 
of  evolution  was  expounded.  Although  not  materialistic, 
and  still  less  atheistic,  it  was  of  such  a  character  that  it 
must  have  helped  to  swell  the  stream  of  eighteenth- 
century  materialism.  It  has  been  well  treated  of  by 
Damiron  in  his  '  Me'moires  pour  servir  a  I'histoire  de  la 
Philosophic  au  xviii^  siecle,'  and  by  Rosenkranz  in  the 
'  Z\  Der  Gedanke  '  B^.  i. 

Note   XIL,  page  86. 
La  Mettrie. 

The  Eloge  of  Frederick  the  Great  on  La  Mettrie  is 
reprinted  in  Assezat's  edition  of  '  L'homme  machine ' 
(1865).  M.  Assezat  initiated  the  process  of  rehabihtat- 
ing  the  memory  of  La  Mettrie.  Lange  followed  in  1866. 
M.  Neree  Quepat  published  in  1873  ^is  '  Essai  sur  La 
Mettrie,  sa  vie  et  ses  ceuvres.'  Although  it  gives  far  too 
favourable  a  view,  both  of  the  conduct  of  La  Mettrie 
and  of  his  writings,  it  can  be  commended  as  an  industri- 
ously and  intelligently  composed  production.  Du  Bois- 
Reymond's  eulogium  was  pronounced  before  the  Royal 
Academy  of  Prussia  in  1875. 

Lange,  in  the  chapter  dedicated  to  La  Mettrie,  has 
collected,  reproduced  in  a  clear  and  condensed  form, 
and  skilfully  combined  the  most  plausible  and  judicious 

Appendix:  Note  XI  11.  473 

views  enunciated  in  that  author's  writings.  This  gives 
as  result  a  most  flattering  reflection  of  La  Mettrie's  char- 
acter as  a  thinker.  Unfortunately  the  real  La  Mettrie 
was  rambling,  incoherent,  and  self- contradictory  to  the 
last  degree.  It  would,  m  consequence,  not  be  difficult 
to  make  about  as  truthful  a  picture  of  him  as  Lange's, 
and  from  materials  Hkewise  supplied  by  his  own  books, 
yet  which  should  represent  him,  in  accordance  with  the 
description  of  D'Argens,  as  "fou,  au  pied  de  la  lettre." 
"Sa  tete,"  says  Diderot,  "est  si  troublee  et  ses  idees  sont 
a  tel  point  decousues,  que,  dans  la  meme  page,  une 
assertion  sense'e  est  heurtee  par  une  assertion  folle,  et 
une  assertion  folle  par  une  assertion  sense'e." 

Note  XIIL,  page  96. 


J.  B.  de  Mirabaud  died  in  1760,  ten  years  before  the 
publication  of  the  '  Systeme  de  la  Nature '  which  bore 
his  name  on  its  title-page.  Naigeon  says  that  he  had 
seen  a  MS.  of  Mirabaud,  entitled  '  Des  Lois  du  monde 
physique  et  du  monde  morale,'  in  which  views  similar  to 
those  in  the  *  Systeme  '  were  advocated.  If  this  state- 
ment could  be  relied  on,  the  conjecture  nn'ght  be  per- 
mitted that  the  MS.  was  made  use  of  by  Holbach  and 
his  friends.  Mirabaud  was,  undoubtedly,  a  materialist 
and  an  enemy  of  Christianity,  although,  perhaps,  not  an 
atheist.  His  '  Sentiments  des  philosophes  sur  la  nature 
de  Tame'  (1743),  and  '  Le  Monde,  son  origine  et  son 
antiquite'  (1751),  show  quite  clearly  to  what  school  of 

474  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

thought  he  belonged.  His  Hterary  reputation  was  chiefly 
due  to  his  translation  of  Tasso's  *  Jerusalem  Delivered,' 
pubhshed  in  1724.  He  was  perpetual  secretary  of  the 
French  Academy  from  1742  until  his  death.  There  is 
an  account  of  him  by  D'Alembert  in  the  first  volume  of 
the  '  Histoire  des  membres  de  I'Acade'mie  frangaise.' 

Von  Holbach  was  at  least  the  chief  author  of  the 
'  System  of  Nature.'  He  was  a  diligent  and  ready  writer, 
and  must  have  done  some  good  service  by  his  French 
translations  of  German  scientific  works.  The  anti-reli- 
gious publications  of  which  he  was  in  w^hole  or  in  part 
the  author  are  very  numerous.  Most  of  them  were  pub- 
lished by  Michael  Rey  of  Amsterdam.  They  all  ap- 
peared either  without  name  or  under  false  names.  A 
list  of  them  is  given  in  Barbier's  '  Dictionary  of  Anony- 
mous Works.' 

Lange's  account  of  the  'System  of  Nature'  is  elaborate 
and  laudatory.  Mr  Morley's,  in  his  '  Diderot/  is  of  a 
very  similar  character.  N.  S.  Bergier's  '  Examen  du 
Materialism e,'  2  tom.,  17  71,  is  a  good  refutation. 

Note  XIV.,  page  loi. 

English  Materialism  in  the  First  Half  of  the 
Nineteenth  Century. 

Dr  Erasmus  Darwin's  '  Zoonomia,  or  the  Laws  of  Or- 
ganic Life,'  2  vols.,  does  not  strictly  fall  to  be  mentioned 
here,  as  it  was  published  in  1794-96  ;  but,  along  with  the 
*  Botanic  Garden '  and  '  Phytologia,'  it  did  much  to  keep 

Appendix :  Note  XIV.  475 

materialism  in  existence  during  the  earlier  part  of  the 
century.  Its  fundamental  idea  was  that  vegetables  and 
animals  originated  in  living  filaments,  susceptible  of  irri- 
tation. Irritability  develops,  so  argued  Dr  Darwin,  into 
sensibility,  and  sensibility  into  perception,  memory,  and 
reason.  The  theory  was  annihilated  by  Dr  Thomas 
Brown  in  his  '  Observations  on  the  Zoonomia,'  Edinb., 

Dr  Erasmus  Darwin  was  very  famous  in  his  day, 
although  he  never  attained,  of  course,  the  height  of  repu- 
tation which  has  been  reached  by  his  grandson,  Dr 
Charles  Darwin.  His  mind  was  in  many  respects  similar 
in  character,  the  chief  difference  being  that  his  fancy  was 
even  more  fertile  and  bold,  and  that  he  was  less  patient 
and  methodical  in  the  investigation  of  facts.  Regarding 
him  see  the  following  work, — '  Erasmus  Darwin,  by  Ernst 
Krause,  tr.  by  W.  S.  Dallas.  With  a  Preliminary  Notice 
by  Charles  Darwin  :   1879.' 

The  '  Essay  on  the  Origin  and  Prospects  of  ]\Ian '  (3 
vols,,  1 831),  by  JNIr  Thomas  Hope,  is  an  almost  unread- 
able production.  Its  sentences  often  defy  alike  logical 
and  grammatical  analysis.  How  the  author  of  '  Anas- 
tasius '  could  have  written  in  so  trailing,  involved,  and 
obscure  a  fashion  is  a  mystery.  The  existence  of  God 
as  the  inconceivable  primary  cause,  from  which  all  other 
causes  and  effects  proceed  by  way  of  radiation,  emana- 
tion, or  evolution,  is  affirmed;  but,  if  there  be  some 
theism  or  pantheism  in  this,  the  work  otherwise  seems 
to  be  thoroughly  materialistic.  A  single  sentence  will, 
perhaps,  be  a  sufficient  specimen  both  of  its  style  and  of 
its  science.  In  answer  to  the  fundamental  question, 
"  On  what  depends,  between  the  bodies  merely  inorganic 
and  lifeless  and  the  bodies  organic  and  living,  the  difter- 

4/6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

ence  which  leaves  in  the  former  a  total  absence  of  organ- 
isation, life,  and  growth,  and  to  the  latter  first  gives  the 
possession  of  these  new  attributes?"  Mr  Hope  writes 
thus  :  "  It  only  depends  on  this,  that  in  the  former 
bodies,  when  their  first  molecules,  from  opposite  sides 
driven  together  and  meeting,  are  made  to  consolidate 
and  cohere  sufficiently  to  have  of  the  new  substances 
still  fluid  that  enter  and  penetrate  between  them,  by  the 
pressure  of  electricity  of  a  combining  sort  and  of  cold 
from  without,  and  by  the  resistance  or  counter-pressure 
of  the  former  solids  from  within,  a  portion  again  stopped, 
condensed,  congealed,  and  made  to  combine  and  con- 
solidate, of  these  new  substances  from  without,  during 
their  consolidation  the  pressure  on  the  former  ones 
within  already  consolidated,  so  exceeds  in  these  former 
ones  from  within  their  elasticity  or  power  to  yield  to  that 
pressure  of  these  outer  ones,  without  being  by  it  broken, 
dispersed,  and  decombined,  as  not  to  be  able  themselves 
to  remain  solid  and  cohering,  while  these  new  ones  are 
added  to  them ; — as  we  see  in  stones  which  when  hu- 
midity driven  is  there  by  combining  electricity  and  cold 
congealed,  it  soon  makes  them  burst  and  themselves 
again  decombine ;  whereas  in  the  latter  bodies,  when  of 
the  new  fluids  driven  in  them  a  portion  is  stopped,  con- 
gealed, consolidated  and  made  to  cohere  together,  the 
extension  which  these  new  fluids  experience  in  being 
consolidated  in  crystalline  forms,  disperses  not  by  its 
pressure  the  former  solids,  nor  decombines  these  entirely, 
but,  by  the  elasticity  these  possess,  only  makes  them  also 
in  their  turn  extend,  till  by  their  extension  they  again 
exert  over  the  new  ones  consolidating  a  counter-pressure, 
sufficient  to  make  these  also  cohere  even  with  them- 
selves, and  thus  gradually  increase  the  general  mass  of 

Appendix:  Note  XIV.  477 

substances  solid  and  cohering,  in  so  doing,  make  it  ex- 
hibit the  phenomena  called  of  life  and  growth." — Vol. 

ii-  PP-  35>  36. 

Shortly  after  the  book  appeared,  Mr  Carlyle  justly 
described  it  as  "a  monstrous  Anomaly,  where  all  sciences 
are  heaped  and  huddled  together,  and  the  principles  of 
all  are,  with  a  childlike  innocence,  plied  hither  and 
thither,  or  wholly  abolished  in  case  of  need ;  Avhere  the 
First  Cause  is  figured  as  a  huge  Circle,  with  nothing  to 
do  but  radiate  '  gravitation '  towards  its  centre ;  and  so 
construct  a  Universe,  wherein  all,  from  the  lowest  cucum- 
ber with  its  coolness,  up  to  the  highest  seraph  with  his 
love,  were  but  'gravitation,'  direct  or  reflex,  'in  more 
or  less  central  globes ; '"  "a  general  agglomerate  of  all 
facts,  notions,  whims,  and  observations,  as  they  lie  in 
the  brain  of  an  English  gentleman  :  all  these  throw^n  into 
the  crucible,  and  if  not  fused,  yet  soldered  or  conglutin- 
ated  with  boundless  patience;  and  now  tumbled  out 
here,  heterogeneous,  amorphous,  unspeakable,  a  world's 

Mr  Hope's  work  is  frequently  referred  to,  and  occa- 
sionally quoted,  in  the  '  Vestiges  of  the  Natural  History 
of  Creation  '  (1844).  The  existence  of  a  personal  Deity 
is  distinctly  recognised  in  this  latter  work,  but  all  the 
forms  of  life  and  mind  are  taught  to  have  been  neces- 
sarily evolved  from  primary  nebulous  matter.  The 
theory  which  it  expounds  is  substantially  the  theory 
of  evolution  at  present  prevalent.  It  was  criticised  by 
Sir  D.  Brewster  in  the  *  North  British  Review,'  No.  3  ; 
by  Prof.  Dod  in  an  elaborate  article  which  was  repub- 
lished in  the  second  series  of  the  'Princeton  Theological 
Essays;'  by  Mr  Hugh  Miller  in  'Footprints  of  the 
Creator;'   by  Prof.    Sedgwick  in   the    'Edinburgh    Re- 

47^  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

view,'  No.  82  ;  and  by  Dr  Whewell  in  '  Indications  of  a 
Creator,'  &c.  It  is,  perhaps,  worth  noting  that  Karl 
Vogt  translated  the  'Vestiges'  into  German  in  1847. 

In  volumes  i.  and  ii.  of  the  '  Oracle  of  Reason,'  pub- 
lished in  1842  and  1843,  there  is  a  series  of  forty-eight 
papers  on  "  The  Theory  of  Regular  Gradation,"  in  which 
it  is  maintained  that  *'all  the  facts  which  form  the 
sciences  tend  to  the  conclusion  that  the  inherent  pro- 
perties of  '  dull  matter,'  as  some  brig/if  portions  of  it  have 
designated  it,  are  good  and  sufficient  to  produce  all  the 
varied,  complicated,  and  beautiful  phenomena  of  the 
universe ; "  that  "  matter  can  make  men  and  women,  and 
every  other  natural  phenomenon — unassisted,  undirected, 
and  uncontrolled."  In  these  papers  atheism  is  openly 
avowed.     Their  author  was  a  Mr  William  Chilton. 

In  Prof  J.  S.  Blackie's  '  Natural  History  of  Atheism,' 
pp.  221-247,  the  materialistic  and  atheistic  views  of  Mr 
Atkinson  and  Miss  Martin eau  are  stated  and  criticised. 

Andrew  Jackson  Davis,  the  Poughkeepsie  seer,  ex- 
pounded in  his  '  Principles  of  Nature  and  her  Revela- 
tions,' 2  vols.,  the  doctrine  that  all  matter  is  gradually 
advancing  under  the  influence  of  an  Organiser  towards  a 
spiritual  state,  and  that  souls  have  been  generated  from 
matter  until  they  became  substantive  existences  which 
will  survive  the  death  of  the  body,  and  pass  from  lower 
to  higher  stages  of  being,  according  to  eternal  laws  of 

Many  so-called  spiritualists  are  materialists,  and  even 
atheists,  teaching  that  all  things  originate  in  nature,  and 
are  governed  by  physical  necessity.  Materialism,  al- 
though incompatible  with  theism  and  rational  religion, 
is  quite  consistent  with  mythology  and  superstition. 

Appendix  :  Note  XV.  479 

Note  XV.,  page  131. 
Recent   Materialism. 

Among  the  recent  defenders  of  materialism  in  Ger- 
many, Moleschott,  Vogt,  Biichner,  Lowenthal,  Haeckel, 
Diihring,  and  Strauss  may  be  named.  Jacob  Moles- 
chott's  '  Kreislauf  des  Lebens '  (Circulation  of  Life),  pub- 
lished in  1852,  was  the  first  systematic  exposition  of 
what  is  called  scientific  materialism.  It  was  written  in 
a  popular  style,  and  contained  a  considerable  amount  of 
interesting  biological  information,  but  contributed  noth- 
ing to  the  proof  of  the  fundamental  dogmas  of  materi- 
alism ;  these,  indeed,  it  borrowed  from  that  feeble  pro- 
duction of  Ludwig  Feuerbach,  which  it  pronounces  to  be 
"the  immortal  critique  of  religion.'' 

Charles  Vogt  threw  himself  with  great  vigour  and 
violence  into  the  conflict  excited  by  Moleschott's  book, 
and  by  a  celebrated  discourse  of  Rudolph  Wagner  "  On 
the  Creation  of  Man  and  the  Substance  of  the  Soul" 
(1854).  His  'Lectures  on  Man,  his  place  in  creation 
and  in  the  history  of  the  earth,'  published  in  1863, 
have  been  translated  into  English,  and  show  well  what 
manner  of  person  he  is. 

Louis  Biichner  has  been  probably  the  most  efficient 
and  successful  of  the  popularisers  of  contemporary  ma- 
terialism. His  '  Matter  and  Force  '  (1855),  '  Nature  and 
Science'  (1862),  and  'Man's  Place  in  Nature' (1869), 
have  passed  through  many  editions,  and  been  translated 
into  most  European  languages.  The  first  mentioned  of 
these  books  seems  to  have  almost  taken  the  place  formerly 
filled  by  Holbach's  'System  of  Nature.'    There  have  been 

480  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

many  replies  to  it;  that  of  M.  Janet,  'Materialism  of  the 
Present  Day' — of  which  there  is  a  good  translation  by 
Gustave  Masson — combines  most  happily,  perhaps,  ele- 
gance as  to  form  with  thoroughness  as  to  substance. 

Edward  Lowenthal  regards  even  the  authors  just  men- 
tioned as  neither  sufficiently  materialistic  nor  specula- 
tively consistent,  seeing  that  they  affirm  the  coexistence 
of  two  principles — matter  and  force.  He  maintains  that 
matter  is  alone  primordial,  and  that  force  is  merely  a 
product  of  atomic  aggregation.  He  also  labours  to  con- 
struct "a  religion  without  a  creed"  on  his  materialism, 
and  to  form  an  "international  freethinkers'  association," 
from  which  he  expects  great  results;  in  a  word,  he 
aspires  to  be  the  founder  of  what  he  calls  "  Cogitanten- 
thum "  (Thinkingdom),  which  is  to  take  the  place  of 
Christendom.  His  'System  and  History  of  Naturalism,' 
first  published  in  1861,  is  now  in  its  fifth  edition.  The 
system  is  very  feebly  and  loosely  constructed,  and  the 
history  is  very  inaccurate. 

Ernst  Haeckel  is  the  most  enthusiastic  and  influen- 
tial of  German  Darwinists.  His  reputation  as  a  "  mor- 
phologist"  and  "zoologist"  stands  very  high.  He  is  a 
thorough  materialist  and  atheist,  but  he  prefers  to  call 
himself  a  monist.  He  regards  the  eternity  of  matter  as 
a  law  of  nature,  and  spontaneous  generation  as  a  scien- 
tific certainty.  He  gets  enraged  when  he  hears  of  final 
causes;  and  he  tells  those  who  dare  to  doubt  of  the  ape- 
origin  of  humanity,  that  "it  is  an  interesting  and  in- 
structive circumstance  that  those  men  are  chiefly  indig- 
nant at  the  discovery  of  the  natural  development  of  man 
from  the  monkey,  between  whom  and  our  common 
tertiary  ancestors  there  is  the  least  observable  difference, 
whether  as  to  intellectual  capacity  or  cerebral  character- 

Appendix:  Note  XV.  481 

istics."  His  '  General  Morphology,' published  in  1S66, 
his  *  Natural  History  of  Creation,'  of  which  the  first 
edition  appeared  in  1S68,  and  his  'Anthropogenic' 
(1874),  are  the  works  in  which  he  has  expounded  his 
so-called  monism.  The  second  and  third  of  them  have 
been  translated  into  English.  For  a  good  general  ex- 
position of  his  system,  based  on  the  '  Natural  History  of 
Creation,'  see  ]\I.  Le'on  Dumont's  '  Haeckel  et  la  the'orie 
de  revolution  en  Allemagne.' 

Eugene  Diihring  has  endeavoured  in  various  works  to 
establish  and  apply  a  so-called  "philosophy  of  reality" 
which  is  essentially  materialistic.  He  gave  a  general 
exposition  of  his  system  in  a  'Course  of  Philosophy' 
published  in  1875.  The  work  has  considerable  merits; 
but,  besides  other  defects,  it  has  the  fatal  fault  of  seldom 
giving  proofs  either  of  its  affirmations  or  its  negations. 
The  book  of  Hans  Vaihinger,  mentioned  in  Note  V., 
will  be  found  highly  useful  to  the  student  of  Diihring's 

David  F.  Strauss  closed  his  literary  career  by  a  "  Con- 
fession," in  which  materiahsm  and  pantheism  were  blended 
together,  and  Darwinism  was  accepted  as  the  new  and 
true  Gospel.  The  celebrity  which  he  had  acquired,  and 
his  talent  as  a  writer,  w^ere  the  chief  reasons  wdiy  this 
confession — 'The  Old  and  the  New  Faith,'  1873 — 
excited  a  remarkable  amount  of  attention.  As  regards 
real  intellectual  substance  it  is  poor,  superficial,  and 
confused.  The  "  new  faith "  is  a  faith  as  old  as  specu- 
lative error.  As  held  by  Strauss  it  is  an  unreasoned 
faith  in  the  eternity  of  matter,  in  spontaneous  genera- 
tion, in  the  incarnation  of  the  ape,  and  in  the  truth  of 
optimism,  although  the  world  is  ruled  by  blind  and  aim- 
less, unconscious  and  unmoral  forces.  Its  central  posi- 
2  H 

482  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

tive  and  constructive  idea  is  that  the  universe  —  the 
totality  of  existence  designated  nature — is  the  only  God 
which  the  modern  mind  enlightened  by  science  can 
consent  to  worship.  Among  the  multitude  of  reviews 
which  the  book  called  forth,  those  of  Rauwenhoff  and 
Nippold,  of  Huber,  of  Vera,  of  Henry  B.  Smith  ('Philo- 
sophy and  Faith,'  pp.  443-488),  of  J.  Hutchison  Stirling 
('Athenccum,'  June  1873),  ^^^d  of  Ulrici,  might  be  speci- 
fied. Ulrici's  article — an  annihilating  and  unanswerable 
criticism  of  the  philosophical  postulates  and  dogmas 
of  the  latest  faith  of  Strauss — has  been  translated  into 
English,  with  an  introduction,  by  Dr  Krauth. 

Materialism  has  now  for  almost  thirty  years  been 
spreading  more  and  more  widely  in  Germany,  with  what 
results  the  future  will  show.  It  "has  owed  its  success  to 
the  spirit  of  the  times  ;  not  to  any  intellectual  superiority 
of  its  advocates  over  its  opponents.  Schaller,  Lotze, 
J.  H.  Fichte,  Ulrici,  Bona  Meyer,  Huber,  Hoffmann, 
Froschammer,  Fabri,  Weiss,  Wigand,  and  a  host  of  others, 
have  done  all  that  could  be  desired  in  the  way  both  of 
repelling  and  of  returning  its  attacks.  There  is  consider- 
able exaggeration  current  as  to  the  extent,  and  especially 
as  to  the  quality,  of  its  conquests.  The  highest  class 
of  German  thinkers  is  chiefly  composed  of  those  who 
regard  materialism  as  the  least  satisfactory  of  philoso- 
phical systems. 

In  France  scarcely  any  work  of  merit  has  recently  ap- 
peared in  defence  of  materialism,  if  positivism  be  not 
counted  as  materialism.  The  communistic  conspirator, 
A.  Blanqui,  wrote  a  curious  little  book  entitled  'L'Eter- 
nite  par  les  astres,  hypotese  astronomique '  (1872),  which 
showed   very   considerable    Hterary   talent,   and   which 

Appendix :  Note  X  V.  48  3 

was  very  ingeniously  reasoned  out  from  the  assumption 
that  matter  is  infinite  both  in  extension  and  duration. 
He  displayed  in  it  his  characteristic  disregard  of  the 
nature  of  the  consequences  of  his  principles.  Thus  he 
contended  that,  since  there  must  be  all  possible  com- 
binations of  worlds  if  matter  be  absolutely  infinite,  there 
must  be  many  worlds  like  the  present — stars  with,  for 
example,  duplicates  in  them  of  France,  Paris,  the  Com- 
nmne,  and  Blanqui,  and  even  of  all  these  at  every  stage 
of  their  existence.  He  neither  proved,  however,  that 
matter  is  doubly  infinite,  nor  that  we  have  such  a  com- 
prehension of  absolute  as  to  be  able  to  deduce  from  it 
definite  inferences. 

M.  Lefevre,  in  his  '  La  Philosophic '  (1879),  ^^^s  written 
the  history  of  philosophy  from  a  materialistic  point,  and 
given  a  general  exposition  of  the  system  of  materialism. 

In  England,  Mr  Herbert  Spencer,  Professors  Huxley 
and  Tyndall,  and  a  few  other  writers  of  distinguished 
philosophical  or  scientific  talents,  have  done  far  more  to 
diffuse  materialism  than  any  of  those  who  are  willing  to 
avow  themselves  materialists.  Never  was  materialism 
more  fortunate  than  when  it  secured  to  itself  the  sym- 
pathy and  support  of  minds  so  vigorous  and  so  richly 
gifted.  It  is  quite  incorrect,  however,  to  say  that  in  this 
country  the  foremost  scientific  men  have,  as  a  body,  gone 
over  to  the  materialistic  camp  or  to  the  side  of  scepti- 
cism. This  assertion  was  lately  made  by  Mr  Froude; 
and  it  called  forth  from  Professor  Tait  the  followincr 
unanswerable  reply  :  "  When  we  ask  of  any  competent 
authority,  who  were  the  *  advanced,'  the  'best,'  and  the 
'ablest'  scientific  thinkers  of  the  immediate  past  (in 
Britain),  we  cannot  but  receive  for  answer  such  names  as 

4S4  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

Brewster,  Faraday,  Forbes,  Graham,  Rowan  Hamilton, 
Herschel,  and  Talbot.  This  must  be  the  case  unless  we 
use  the  word  science  in  a  perverted  sense.  Which  of 
these  great  men  gave  up  the  idea  that  nature  evidences 
a  designing  mind?  But  perhaps  Mr  Froude  refers  to 
the  advanced  thinkers  still  happily  alive  among  us.  The 
names  of  the  foremost  among  them  are  not  far  to  seek. 
But,  unfortunately  for  his  assertion,  it  is  quite  certain 
that  Andrews,  Joule,  Clerk- Maxwell,  Balfour  Stewart, 
Stokes,  William  Thomson,  and  suchlike,  have  each  and 
all  of  them,  when  the  opportunity  presented  itself,  spoken 
in  a  sense  altogether  different  from  that  implied  in  Mr 
Froude's  article.  Surely  there  are  no  truly  scientific 
thinkers  in  Britain  farther  advanced  than  these."  See 
'International  Review 'for  November  1878,  iVrt.  "Does 
Humanity  require  a  New  Revelation?" 

Among  those  who  have  combated  materialism  with 
ability  in  publications  written  in  English,  the  following 
may  be  mentioned  ;  Dr  L.  S.  Beale,  Professor  Bowen, 
Dr  Carpenter,  President  Chadbourne,  Professor  Cocker, 
Rev.  Joseph  Cook,  Principal  Dawson,  Dr  Hickok,  Dr 
Hodge,  Professor  Le  Conte,  Professor  Leebody,  Presi- 
dent M'Cosh,  Dr  Macvicar,  Dr  Martineau,  Professor 
Clerk  -  Maxwell,  Professor  Mivart,  President  Porter, 
Professors  Balfour  Stewart  and  Tait,  and  Dr  Hutchison 

Appendix :  Note  XVI.  485 

Note  XVI. ,  page  163. 

Materialism   and   Force. 

Professors  Balfour  Stewart  and  Tait,  in  the  preface 
to  the  fifth  edition  of  the  ingenious  and  suggestive  work 
entitled  ' The  Unseen  Universe,'  say  :  "As  professors  of 
natural  philosophy  we  have  one  sad  remark  to  make. 
The  great  majority  of  our  critics  have  exhibited  almost 
absolute  ignorance  as  to  the  proper  use  of  the  term  Force, 
which  has  had  one,  and  only  one,  definite  scientific  sense 
since  the  publication  of  the  '  Principia.'  As  such  men  are 
usually  among  the  exceptionally  well  educated,  ignorance 
of  this  important  question  must  be  all  but  universal.'* 
The  observation  is  probably  only  too  true.  And  per- 
haps professors  of  natural  philosophy  have  themselves 
contributed  largely  to  the  mental  confusion  which  pre- 
vails on  the  subject.  The  definitions  and  descriptions  of 
force  given  by  writers  on  physics  are  conflicting  enough 
to  explain  and  excuse  almost  any  amount  of  ignorance 
and  error  regarding  it.  Faraday  tells  us  that  "  matter  is 
force;"  Grove  that  "force  is  an  affection  of  matter;" 
and  Dubois-Reymond  that  "force  is  nothing  else  than 
an  abortion  of  the  irresistible  tendency  to  personifica- 
tion." Professor  Moleschott  declares  that  "force  is 
essential  to  matter;"  Professor  Spiller  affirms  that  "no 
material  constituent  of  body  is  originally  endowed  with 
force;"  and  Dr  Winslow  maintains  that  "matter  is  a 
mere  vehicle  which  possesses  and  holds  force  as  a  bladder 
holds  water  or  a  sack  meal."  Professor  Balfour  Stewart 
uses  the  word  force  as  meaninsr  "  that  which  changes  the 

486  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

state  of  a  body,  whether  that  state  be  one  of  rest  or  of 
motion ; "  but  Professor  Barker  means  by  it  "  motion 
itself; "  and  Dr  Bastian  understands  by  it  "  a  mode  of 
motion."  If  all  professors  of  natural  philosophy  would 
use  the  word  Force,  and,  I  may  add,  the  word  Energy, 
in  the  same  definite,  intelligible,  and  self-consistent  way 
as  Professors  Stewart  and  Tait,  Clerk-Maxwell  and  Sir 
William  Thomson,  a  vast  amount  of  mental  confusion 
would  speedily  pass  away.  In  this  reference,  a  perusal 
of  Chap.  III.  of  '  The  Unseen  Universe '  cannot  be  too 
strongly  recommended. 

Both  the  scientific  and  the  religious  consequences  of 
error  as  to  the  signification  and  relationship  of  energy 
and  force  may  be  very  serious.  To  affirm  of  force  what 
is  true  of  energy  is  as  great  a  mistake  as  to  confound  the 
birth-rate  of  a  country  with  its  population.  In  con- 
sequence of  this  error,  Mr  Herbert  Spencer  has  trans- 
formed or  transmogrified  the  grand  law  of  the  Conserva- 
tion of  Energy — the  law  that,  "  in  any  system  of  bodies 
whatever,  to  which  no  energy  is  communicated  by  ex- 
ternal bodies,  and  which  parts  with  no  energy  to  external 
bodies,  the  sum  of  the  various  potential  and  kinetic 
energies  remains  for  ever  unaltered" — into  a  so-called 
law  of  the  Persistence  of  Force — the  dogma  that  "  the 
quantity  of  force  remains  always  the  same "  —  which 
physical  science  wholly  disowns.  "The  sole  recorded 
case,"  observe  Professors  Stewart  and  Tait,  "  of  true  per- 
sistency or  indestructibility  of  force  which  we  recollect 
having  ever  met  with,  occurs  in  connection  with  Baron 
Munchausen's  remarkable  descent  from  the  moon.  It 
is,  no  doubt,  a  very  striking  case ;  but  it  is  apparently 
unique,  and  it  was  not  subjected  to  scientific  scrutiny." 

Appendix:  Note.  XV I.  487 

It  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  professional  critics  and 
popular  writers  should  have  so  generally  gone  to  Mr 
Herbert  Spencer's  chapter  on  "The  Persistence  of  Force" 
for  enlightenment  as  to  the  subject  of  which  it  treats, 
although  probably  in  no  other  eight  consecutive  pages  in 
the  English  language  are  there  so  many  physical  and 
metaphysical  errors  combined.  Many  of  these  persons, 
not  having  had  their  senses  educated  by  appropriate 
scientific  instruction  to  discern  between  good  and  evil  in 
such  matters,  have  been  under  the  delusion  that  in  per- 
using the  chapter  indicated  they  were  refreshing  them- 
selves with  water  drawn  from  the  fountain  of  pure  truth, 
when  they  were  really  intoxicating  themselves  with  "  the 
wine  of  the  Borgias."  The  dreadful  consequences  which 
have  sometimes  resulted  from  this  mistake  may  be  seen 
exemplified  in  the  case  of  "  Physicus." 

A  number  of  Mr  Spencer's  errors  regarding  force  are 
well  refuted  by  Professor  Birks  in  his  '  Modern  Physical 
Fatalism,'  pp.  159-196. 

On  the  nature  and  relationship  of  matter  and  force 
the  three  following  works  are  important :  Harms,  '  Philo- 
sophische  Einleitung  in  die  Encyklopaedie  der  Physik ; ' 
Huber,  *  Die  Forschung  nach  der  Materie ; '  and  Dauriac, 
'  Des  Notions  de  matiere  et  de  force  dans  les  sciences  de 
la  nature.* 

488  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

Note  XVII.,  page  171. 
Materialism   and   Life. 

Materialism  is  obviously  unproved  so  long  as  life  is 
not  shown  to  be  a  property  or  an  effect  of  matter.  Life 
has  certainly  not  yet  been  shown  to  be  either  the  one 
or  the  other.  "The  present  state  of  knowledge,"  says 
Professor  Huxley,  in  his  article  on  ''•  Biology,"  in  the 
* Encyclopsedia  Britannica,'  "furnishes  us  with  no  link 
between  the  living  and  the  not-living." 

Numerous  definitions  have  been  given  of  life,  but 
even  the  best  of  these  definitions  appear  to  be  seriously 
defective.  Biology  has  not  yet  succeeded  in  forming  a 
precise  and  accurate  notion  of  what  life  is.  Perhaps  we 
must  be  content  to  understand  by  it,  so  far  as  it  falls 
under  the  consideration  of  physical  science,  the  cause  of 
the  direction  and  co-ordination  of  the  movements  or 
actions  characteristic  of  bioplasmic  matter. 

Mr  Herbert  Spencer  (Principles  of  Biology,  vol.  i.  pp. 
60,  61)  has  well  indicated  the  unsatisfactoriness  of  the 
definition  of  Schelling — "  Life  is  the  tendency  to  indi- 
viduation:" of  that  of  Richerand — "Life  is  a  collection 
of  phenomena  which  succeed  each  other  during  a  Hmited 
time  in  an  organised  body  ;  "  of  that  of  De  Blainville — 
"  Life  is  the  twofold  internal  movement  of  composition 
and  decomposition,  at  once  general  and  continuous ; " 
and  of  that  of  Lewes — "  Life  is  a  series  of  definite  and 
successive  changes,  both  of  structure  and  composition, 
which  take  place  within  an  individual  without  destroying 
its  identity."  Mr  Spencer  has  also  laboured  to  provide  a 
better  definition  j  and  some  writers  suppose  that  his  sue- 

Appendix:  Note  XVII,  489 

cess  has  been  almost  complete.  Thus  Professor  Bain 
(Logic,  Part  11.  p.  258)  says :  "Choosing  assimilation  as 
a  characteristic  fact  of  bodily  life,  and  reasoning  as  an 
example  of  mental  life,  and  contrasting  both  with  the 
characters  of  dead  matter,  Mr  Herbert  Spencer  arrives 
at  the  following  highly  complex  definition  :  i.  Life  con- 
tains a  process  or  processes  of  change.  2.  The  change 
is  not  a  simple  or  individual  act,  but  a  series  or  succession 
of  changes.  3.  Life  involves  a  plurality  of  simultaneotis 
as  well  as  successive  changes.  4.  The  changes  are 
heterogeneous^  or  various  in  character.  5.  The  various 
changes  all  combine  to  a  definite  result.  6.  Finally,  the 
changes  are  in  correspondence  with  external  coexistences 
and  sequences.  In  sum  :  Life  is  a  set  of  changes,  simul- 
taneous and  successive,  combined  to  a  definite  result, 
and  in  correspondence  with  external  circumstances. 
Or,  in  a  briefer  form,  Life  is  the  continuous  adjustment 
of  internal  relations  to  external  relations.  So  carefully 
has  the  comparison  been  conducted,  that  no  exception 
could  be  taken  to  any  part  of  this  definition.  Every  one 
of  the  particulars  occurs  in  all  living  bodies,  and  in  no 
kind  of  dead  matter."  This  estimate  I  cannot  but 
regard  as  much  too  favourable.  There  is  not  a  single 
particular  in  ]\Ir  Spencer's  definition  which  is  not  as 
characteristic  of  the  action  of  a  watch  as  of  the  life  of 
a  plant  or  animal.  His  so  called  definition  is  a  sort  of 
expression  of  what  is  common  to  the  manifestations  of 
machinery,  life,  and  mind  ;  but  it  gives  us  no  informa- 
tion either  as  to  what  mechanism,  life,  and  thought  are, 
or  as  to  how  we  are  to  distinguish  them.  It  professes  to 
be  a  definition  of  life,  but  really  leaves  life  wholly  out  of 
account,  in  order  to  facilitate  the  work  incumbent  on  a 
materialistic  philosophy.     In  fact,  Mr  Spencer  has  not 

490  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

sought  a  definition  in  a  rational  way.  It  is  vain  to 
attempt  to  define  life  by  generalising  its  own  eff"ects. 
Biologists  of  all  schools  have  abandoned  this  method 
of  procedure  as  utterly  unscientific,  and  now  seek  to 
accomplish  their  aim  by  the  experimental  study  of  life 
in  its  simplest  forms.  The  true  method  to  be  followed 
has  perhaps  never  been  so  clearly  traced  as  by  the 
illustrious  French  physiologist  recently  deceased,  M. 
Claude  Bernard,  in  his  'Legons  sur  phenomenes  de 
la  vie  communs  aux  animaux  et  aux  vegetaux'  (1878). 
M.  Bernard  has  been  often  claimed  as  a  materialist  and 
as  a  positivist;  but,  in  reality,  his  profound  physiological 
science  led  him  to  results  fatal  both  to  materialism  and 
to  positivism ;  and  a  careful  study  of  the  work  mentioned 
will  render  impossible  the  acceptance  of  all  definitions 
of  the  kind  to  which  that  of  Mr  Spencer  belongs — defi- 
nitions based  on  a  merely  outside  or  superficial  view  of 
the  manifestations  of  life. 

Science  is  not  only  entitled  but  bound  to  trace  the 
stream  of  life  back  as  far  as  it  can.  The  hypothesis  of 
Mr  Darwin,  that  all  terrestrial  organisms  may  have  ori- 
ginated in  a  single  primordial  germ,  which  was  produced 
when  the  earth  was  fitted  to  receive  it,  is  a  perfectly 
legitimate  scientific  hypothesis,  although,  of  course,  it 
should  not  be  believed  until  it  is  proved.  Equally 
legitimate  in  a  scientific  point  of  view  is  the  hypothesis 
that  life  did  not  originate  on  this  earth,  but  has  come  to 
it  from  remote  and  older  worlds.  This  hypothesis  has 
been  presented  in  two  forms. 

I.  According  to  M.  Edgar  Quinet  (La  Creation,  T. 
ii.  L.  xi.  ch.  ii.),  Professor  Preyer  (Deutsche  Rundschau, 
Heft  7),  and  Dr  O.  Zacharias  (Athenaeum,  Bd.  i.  pp. 
413-429),  life  is  not  fixed  and  limited  to  certain  points 

Appendix:  Note  XVI I.  491 

of  space  or  periods  of  time ;  is  of  a  cosmical,  not  of  a 
terrestrial  nature ;  has  been  coeval  with  the  universe  ; 
has  passed  from  nebula  to  nebula;  and  has  been  de- 
rived by  the  earth  from  the  mass  whence  it  was  itself 
detached.  Professor  Preyer,  indeed,  imagines  that  living 
and  organic  existences  preceded  and  deposited  all  dead 
and. inorganic  matter.  Even  when  not  urged  in  this 
burlesque  shape,  the  view  that  life  has  come  to  the  earth 
from  the  mass  whence  it  was  severed  seems  untenable. 
Contemporary  science  is  very  far  astray  if  our  planet 
has  not  passed  through  a  condition  in  which  its  tem- 
perature must  have  been  fatal  to  all  life. 

2.  According  to  Sir  WilHam  Thomson  (Address  to  the 
British  Association  in  187 1),  and  Helmholtz  (Preface  to 
the  second  part  of  the  first  volume  of  the  German 
translation  of  Thomson  and  Tait's  'Natural  Philosophy'), 
life  m.ay  have  been  carried  to  our  earth  in  the  clefts  or 
crevices  of  meteoric  stones — the  fragments  of  shattered 
worlds,  once  rich  in  vital  forms.  The  attempt  of 
Zollner,  in  his  work  'On  Comets,'  to  show  that  this 
conception  is  essentially  unscientific,  is  extremely  weak. 
Of  course  the  hypothesis  does  not  explain  the  origin 
of  life,  but  only  suggests  that  its  origin  may  have  to 
be  sought  much  further  away  than  where  scientists  are 
looking  for  it.  This,  however,  is  all  that  it  proposes  to 
do.  It  does  not  profess,  at  least  as  stated  by  Sir  William 
Thomson,  to  be  a  theory  of  the  origin  of  life,  but  only  a 
possible  way  of  accounting  for  the  origin  of  terrestrial 
life.  The  objection  that  the  heat  of  the  meteoric  stones 
must  have  been  incompatible  with  their  conveyance  of 
life  does  not  seem  to  have  been  substantiated.  Ap- 
parently the  heat  in  a  deep  crevice  of  a  large  meteorite 
would    not  be  so  intense  as  to  destroy  a  living  germ. 

49-  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

But  although  the  hypothesis  is  quite  scientific  in  its 
nature,  and  has  not  been  shown  to  involve  any  physical 
impossibility,  no  positive  evidence  has  been  produced 
on  behalf  of  it. 

Many  anti-theists  in  the  present  day  feel  constrained 
by  their  inability  to  account,  on  purely  physical  prin- 
ciples, for  the  life  associated  with  matter,  to  maintain  its 
eternity.  Thus  some  of  those  who  trace  it  in  the  way 
which  has  just  been  mentioned  from  our  world  to  others, 
forthwith  conclude  that  it  is  coeval  with  matter,  and  that 
both  matter  and  life  must  be  regarded  as  unoriginated. 
They  overlook  that  the  life  under  consideration  is  life 
which  implies  material  conditions,  and  these  of  a  kind 
not  necessarily  involved  in  the  very  constitution  of 
matter;  that  it  could  only  appear  when  the  universe 
was  in  a  certain  state  of  development ;  that  it  could 
not  have  existed,  for  example,  in  a  nebula.  To  trace 
life  from  world  to  world  can  never  show  it  to  be  eternal, 
if  it  can  appear  in  no  world  which  has  not  passed  through 
certain  stages  before  reaching  the  condition  in  which 
alone  life  can  be  realised.  Besides,  the  assumption  that 
matter  is  eternal  is  unscientific  and  arbitrary. 

The  old  hypothesis  of  a  world-soul  has  also  recently 
been  revived  in  various  forms,  and  presented  as  an  ex- 
planation of  the  origination  of  life  in  individual  organisms. 
In  this  way  materialism  loses  itself  in  pantheism,  while 
in  no  form  is  the  hypothesis  of  a  world-soul  demanded 
or  supported  by  critically  ascertained  and  scientifically 
interpreted  facts. 

Then  there  are  speculators  who  would  efface  the 
distinction  between  the  living  and  the  dead,  the  organic 
and  the  inorganic,  by  ascribing  to  every  atom  of  matter 
a  small  portion  or  faint  degree  of  life.     Those  who  pro- 

Appendix:  Note  XV  11.  493 

ceed  thus  take  the  suggestions  of  fancy  for  the  findings 
of  reason;  they  abandon  true  science  for  a  worthless 
metaphysics — natural  philosophy  for  Natufphilosopkie, 
They  manifestly  leave  the  problem  which  they  profess 
to  solve  as  mysterious  as  ever.  What  is  commonly 
called  dead  matter  is  certainly  not  alive  in  the  same 
sense  as  what  is  commonly  called  living  matter;  and 
to  call  it  alive  in  some  other  sense  does  not  help  us  in 
the  least  to  understand  how  it  can  originate  life  in 
the  ordinary  sense  of  the  term.  No  real  problem  can 
be  solved  by  merely  verbal  artifices. 

The  only  scientific  proof  of  the  materialistic  concep- 
tion of  life  would  be  the  establishment  of  the  hypo- 
thesis of  spontaneous  generation,  or,  as  it  is  now  often 
termed,  "abiogenesis."  M.  Pouchet  in  France,  and  Dr 
Bastian  in  England,  have  recently  laboured  to  supply 
the  requisite  proof.  They  have  utterly  failed,  even  in 
the  judgment  of  those  who  persist  in  believing  with- 
out proof  in  spontaneous  generation.  In  ]\1.  Pasteur's 
'  Memoire  sur  les  Corpuscules  organisees  suspendus 
dans  I'Atmosphere ; '  in  Prof.  Tyndall's  essays  on  "  Dust 
and  Disease,"  and  "Putrefaction  and  Infection;"  in 
Prof.  Lister's  "  Contribution  to  the  Germ  Theory  of 
Putrefaction  and  other  Fermentative  Changes  "  in  vol. 
xxvii.  of  the  Transactions  of  the  Royal  Society  of  Edin- 
burgh, &c., — ample  evidence  will  be  found  for  rejecting 
the  notion  of  spontaneous  generation. 

Several  eminent  scientific  men,  who  are  constrained 
to  admit  that  there  is  no  experimental  evidence  that 
life  can  arise  save  from  antecedent  life,  notwithstanding, 
believe  that  spontaneous  generation  actually  occurred 
in  an  inaccessible  and  exceptional  past.  Thus  Prof. 
Huxley,  in  his  Address  to  the  British  Association,  says : 

494  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

"  If  it  were  given  me  to  look  beyond  the  abyss  of 
geologically  recorded  time  to  the  still  more  remote 
period  when  the  earth  was  passing  through  physical  and 
chemical  conditions,  which  it  can  no  more  see  again 
than  a  man  can  recall  his  infancy,  I  should  expect  to 
be  a  witness  of  the  evolution  of  living  protoplasm  from 
non-living  matter;"  and  Prof.  Tyndall,  also  in  an 
Address  to  the  British  Association,  declares  :  "  By  an 
intellectual  necessity  I  cross  the  boundary  of  the  experi- 
mental evidence,  and  discern  in  that  Matter  which  we 
in  our  ignorance  of  its  latent  powers,  and  notwithstand- 
ing our  professed  reverence  for  its  Creator,  have  hither- 
to covered  with  opprobrium,  the  promise  and  potency 
of  all  terrestrial  life."  The  attitude  of  mind  revealed  by 
these  words  is  not  a  reasonable  one.  We  cannot  be 
justified  in  believing  a  scientific  hypothesis  in  favour  of 
which  we  fail  to  find  a  single  relevant  fact,  while  every 
experiment  undertaken  to  prove  it  ends  in  confirming 
the  rule  of  which  it  would  be  the  violation.  Our  befief 
in  the  continuity  of  nature  must  be  conformed  to  our 
knowledge  of  the  continuity  of  experience.  The  right 
of  belief  claimed  by  Professors  Huxley  and  Tyndall  is, 
in  this  instance,  a  right  to  believe  without  evidence  and 
against  evidence.  It  need  scarcely  be  pointed  out  that 
if  matter  could  produce  life,  the  improbability  of  its  hav- 
ing produced  it  only  in  a  passing  crisis  of  its  history 
must  be  regarded  as  enormous.  What  physical  and 
chemical  forces  did  once,  they  would  surely  do  often,  if 
not  continually.  Matter  now  has  not  lost  any  known 
property  or  power  which  it  possessed  when  in  a  cooling 
state,  nor  has  it  been  shown  that  its  molecular  constitu- 
tion is  greatly  changed,  while  it  is  certainly  better  fitted 
for  the  support  of  life.     What  reason  is  there  for  imag- 

Appendix :  Note  X  VII:  495 

ining  that  it  was  ever  more  fitted  than  at  present  for 
originating  life? 

The  attempt  to  explain  life  by  Protoplasm  is  generally 
acknowledged  to  have  failed.  The  reader  will  find 
materials  for  forming  a  judgment  on  the  controversy  in 
Prof.  Huxley's  '  Physical  Basis  of  Life,'  in  Dr  Lionel 
Beale's  '  Protoplasm/  and  Dr  Hutchison  Stirling's  '  Con- 
cerning Protoplasm.'  The  Rev.  Joseph  Cook,  in  several 
of  his  second  series  of  Boston  Monday  Lectures,  presents 
Dr  Lionel  Beale's  results  in  a  very  popular  and  effective 
manner.  I  regret  to  perceive,  however,  that  he  and 
others  should  accept  so  readily  Dr  Lionel's  view  that 
the  body  is  divisible  into  dead  and  living  matter,  the 
latter  being  a  comparatively  small  portion,  which  be- 
comes red  under  the  application  of  carmine,  I  confess 
I  fail  to  see  that  his  division  will  hold,  and  believe  that 
every  kind  of  matter  —  Beale's  so-called  living  matter 
included  —  will  ultimately  be  analysed  into  inorganic 

The  world-renowned  Bathybius  of  Huxley,  Haeckei, 
and  Strauss,  has  turned  out  to  be  "a  sea-mare's  nest." 
The  explorations  of  the  Challenger  have  shown  that  the 
supposed  "vast  sheet  of  living  matter  enveloping  the 
whole  earth  beneath  its  seas"  is  little  more  than  a 
deposit  of  gypsum.,  Huxley,  with  characteristic  candour, 
hastened,  as  soon  as  the  results  of  these  explorations 
were  communicated  to  him,  to  acknowledge  his  mistake. 
Even  Haeckei  no  longer  argues  that  the  existence  of 
Bathybius  is  proved,  but  ventures  only  to  maintain  that 
its  non-existence  is  not  proved. 

Were  this  note  not  already  too  long,  I  should  have 
submitted  Haeckel's  views  concerning  the  origin  of  life 
to  a  special  examination.     It  may  be  necessary  to  state, 

496  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

in  order  to  prevent  misconceptions  as  to  my  own  posi- 
tion, that  I  do  not  regard  the  explanation  of  life  by 
mechanical  and  chemical  causes  as  absurd  or  impossible, 
or  as  involving  any  difficulties  nearly  so  great  as  those 
which  consciousness  or  mind  presents  to  materialism. 

Note  XVIIL,  page  173. 
Materialism  and   Mind. 

My  chief  reason  for  passing  so  briefly  over  the  materi- 
alistic attempts  to  account  for  mental  phenomena  is  the 
manifest  inadequacy  of  these  attempts.  Wlien  material- 
ism comes  to  deal  with  mind  it  simply  breaks  down.  It 
has  not  as  yet  been  able  to  bring  forward  any  fact  which 
proves  more  than  that  the  mind  is  intimately  connected 
with,  and  largely  dependent  on,  the  body — a  conclusion 
which  affords  no  support  to  materialism. 

It  may  be  of  use  to  note  some  of  the  more  prominent 
respects  in  which  materialism  fails  when  it  undertakes  to 
account  for  mind. 

I.  It  leaves  unexplained  the  fact  that  physical  and 
mental  phenomena  are  distinguished  by  differences  far 
greater  than  any  of  those  which  distinguish  other  phe- 
nomena. Materialists  represent  the  contrasts  between 
matter  and  mind  as  similar  to  the  distinctions  between 
different  states  of  matter.  This  only  shows  that  they  do 
not  realise  what  the  facts  of  the  case  are.  The  unlike- 
ness  between  any  physical  and  any  mental  phenomenon 
is  incomparably  greater  than  the  unlikeness  between  any 
two  physical  phenomena.     It  is  an  entirely  peculiar  un- 

Appendix :  Note  X  VIII.  497 

likeness.  What  is  called  matter  may  pass  through  many 
stages,  may  assume  many  phases,  and  may  perform  many 
functions ;  but  in  all  its  transformations,  even  the  most 
surprising,  it  never  ceases  to  be  an  object  of  sense,  a 
something  external,  extended,  bounded,  divisible,  mov- 
able, &c.  ;  while  no  phenomenon  of  mind — no  thought, 
volition,  or  feeling — ever  has  any  of  these  properties,  but 
has  a  number  of  other  properties  never  found  m  matter. 
The  perception  of  this  truth  early  led  men  to  believe  that 
the  phenomena  called  mental  could  not  be  resolved  mto, 
or  accounted  for  by,  those  called  material ;  and  the  most 
recent  materialism  has  not  succeeded  in  showing  that 
any  other  belief  can  be  reasonably  entertained. 

Prof.  Bain,  in  his  volume  on  '  Mind  and  Body,'  while 
explicitly  admitting  that  mental  and  bodily  states  are 
"utterly  contrasted"  and  '^cannot  be  compared,"  main- 
tains that  the  physical  and  the  mental  are  "  the  two 
sides  of  a  double-faced  unity."  But  he  has  not  shown 
that  utterly  contrasted  qualities  can  coinhere  in  a  single 
substance,  nor  that  what  is  un extended  can  either  be 
a  side  of  anything  or  have  a  side  of  its  own.  Further, 
as  Prof.  Tyndall  remarks '  in  his  Birmingham  lecture, 
— "It  is  no  explanation  to  say  that  the  objective  and 
subjective  effects  are  two  sides  of  one  and  the  same 
phenomenon.  Why  should  the  phenomenon  have  two 
sides?  This  is  the  very  core  of  the  difficulty.  There 
are  plenty  of  molecular  motions  which  do  not  exhibit 
this  two-sidedness.  Does  water  think  or  feel  when  it 
forms  into  frost-ferns  upon  a  window-pane?  If  not, 
why  should  the  molecular  motion  of  the  brain  be  yoked 
to  this  mysterious  companion — consciousness  ?  " 

II.  Materialism  fails  to  show  that  molecular  changes 
in  the  nerves  or  brain  ever  pass  into  mental  states.  This 
2  I 

498  Anti-TJieistic  Theories, 

is  the  argument  employed  by  Tyndall  in  the  quotation 
given  in  the  lecture.  Striking  statements  to  the  same 
effect  will  be  found  in  Du  Bois-Reymond's  '  Ueber  die 
Grenzen  des  Naturerkennens,'  pp.  20,  21,  and  in  Dr 
Ferrier's  'Functions  of  the  Brain/  pp.  255,  256.  Says  the 
former  :  "  I  will  now  prove  conclusively,  as  I  believe,  that 
not  only  is  consciousness  unexplained  by  material  con- 
ditions in  the  present  state  of  our  science  (which  all  will 
admit),  but  that,  in  the  very  nature  of  things,  it  never 
can  be  explained  by  these  conditions.  The  most  ex- 
alted mental  activity  is  no  more  incomprehensible  in  its 
material  conditions  than  is  the  first  grade  of  conscious- 
ness— namely,  sensation.  With  the  first  awakening  of 
pleasure  and  pain  experienced  upon  earth  by  some 
creature  of  the  simplest  structure  appeared  an  impass- 
able gulf,  and  the  world  became  doubly  incomprehen- 
sible." Says  the  latter:  "We  may  succeed  in  determining 
the  exact  nature  of  the  molecular  changes  which  occur 
in  the  brain  when  a  sensation  is  experienced,  but  this 
will  not  bring  us  one  whit  nearer  the  explanation  of  the 
nature  of  that  which  constitutes  the  sensation.  The  one 
is  objective  and  the  other  subjective,  and  neither  can  be 
expressed  in  terms  of  the  other." 

III.  Materialism  fails  to  explain  the  unity  of  conscious- 
ness. This  is  an  old  because  an  obvious  argument,  but 
the  ablest  thinkers  in  Europe  still  regard  it  as  valid  and 
invincible.  It  has  been  presented  with  masterly  skill  by 
Lotze  both  in  his  'Medical  Psychology'  and  in  his  'Mikro- 
kosmos.'  A  careful  statement  of  it,  with  reference  to 
recent  theories,  will  also  be  found  in  an  article  by  Prof. 
Bowen  in  the  'Princeton  Review'  for  March  1878 — 
"  Dualism,  Materialism,  or  Idealism  ?  " 

IV.  The  consciousness  of  personal  identity  is  also  a 

Appendix :  Note  X  VII I.  499 

fact  with  which  materialism  has  not  yet  succeeded  in 
showing  that  it  can  be  reconciled.  There  is  no  doubt 
as  to  the  flict.  Thought,  memory,  and  the  sense  of  re- 
sponsibility, amply  attest  it.  Have  materialists  shown 
how  it  can  be  harmonised  with  the  hypothesis  that  man 
is  merely  body,  and  the  certainty  that  all  the  elements 
and  atoms  of  the  body  are  in  perpetual  change  and  cir- 
culation? The  answer  must  be  in  the  negative.  This 
seems  to  me  to  be  very  convincingly  proved  in  ]\I. 
Janet's  '  Materialism  of  the  Present  Day,'  ch.  vii. 

V.  Another  mental  fact  with  which  materialism  has  not 
yet  shown  itself  to  be  reconcilable  is  self-consciousness. 
In  self-consciousness  the  mind  distinguishes  itself  from  all 
material  objects,  including  all  the  organs  of  its  own  body. 
It  appears  to  itself  to  know  and  feel  itself  to  be  distinct 
from  the  external  world,  distinct  from  its  body,  distinct 
from  its  brain.  It  may,  of  course,  be  mistaken  :  this 
apparent  opposition  of  body  and  soul  which  is  essen- 
tially inherent  in  self-consciousness  may  be  an  illusion 
altogether,  or  there  may  be  some  way  of  transcending  it 
which  will  allow  us  to  assign  to  it  a  certain  value,  and 
yet  to  identify  soul  and  body ;  but  materialism  has  cer- 
tainly hitherto  failed  to  show  it  to  be  mistaken,  and  has 
never  even  dealt  seriously  with  the  problem  which  the 
fact  referred  to  presents.  The  problem  is  not  one  likely 
to  be  solved  by  merely  calling  body  "object-conscious- 
ness," and  the  soul  a  "side,"  or  by  any  similar  verbal 

VI.  Materialism  does  not  account  for  the  internal 
spontaneity  or  the  self- activity  which  is  characteristic 
of  mind.  It  has  not  yet  proved  either  that  we  are 
moved  wholly  from  without,  or  that  we  are  mere  auto- 
mata.    It  claims  to  have  done  so,  but  the  claim  has  for- 

500  Aiiti-Theistic  Theo7'ies. 

tunately  not  been  made  good.  On  this  point  see  Meyer's 
'  Philosophische  Zeitfragen/  k.  viii. ;  the  paper  of  Prof. 
Huxley  in  the  'Fortnightly  Review 'for  Nov.  1874,  on 
the  question  —  "Are  animals  automata?"  the  articles 
of  Dr  Carpenter,  Prof.  Mivart,  and  the  Duke  of  Argyll 
in  the  'Contemporary  Review'  during  1875,  suggested 
by  it ;  and  Dr  Elam's  '  Automatism  and  Evolution.' 

VII.  Materialism  is  irreconcilable  with  the  moral  feel- 
ings of  human  nature. 

Note  XIX.,  page  174. 

Materialism  and  Morality. 

M.  Tissot  has  endeavoured  to  show,  in  his  '  Principes 
du  droit  public'  (hv.  ii.  ch.  i.),  that  materialism  does  not 
necessarily  preclude  belief  in  God,  free-will,  moral  law, 
and  a  future  life.  His  argument  is  skilfully  presented, 
but  it  is  not  conclusive ;  indeed,  it  will  be  found  when 
strictly  examined  to  amount  merely  to  the  plea  that 
since  materialism  is  essentially  inconsistent,  we  have  no 
right  to  demand  that  it  shall  be  consistent,  or  to  censure 
its  special  inconsistencies.  He  contends  that  because 
materialism  ascribes  force  to  matter,  it  may  with  equal 
reason  ascribe  to  it  life ;  that  if  it  may  hold  matter  to  be 
capable  of  life,  it  may  likewise  hold  it  to  be  capable  of 
thought ;  that  when  it  acknowledges  matter  may  think, 
nothing  forbids  it  also  to  admit,  on  the  testimony  of 
consciousness,  that  matter  may  be,  in  certain  circum- 
stances, possessed  of  free-will ;  and  that  to  whatever  it 
assigns  free-will  it  may  assign  true  morality.     Now  what 

Appendix:  Note  XIX.  501 

such  argumentation  really  proves  is,  not  that  material- 
ism is  innocuous,  but  that  it  is  absurd — not  that  it  is 
compatible  with  morality,  but  that  it  is  incompatible 
with  reason.  It  shows  that  materialism  starts  from  the 
first  with  the  assumption  that  matter  is  not  matter,  but 
something  more  than  matter,  and  that  at  every  onward 
step  it  has  renewed  recourse  to  this  assumption ;  in 
other  words,  it  shows  that  materialism  is  consistently 

The  views  of  morality  actually  taught  by  many  con- 
temporary materialists  are  extremely  debasing.  It 
would  be  easy  and  perhaps  useful  to  prove  this  by 
quotations,  but  it  would  also  be  painful,  and  I  refrain. 
Mivart  ('Lessons  from  Nature,'  ch.  xiii.),  J.  B.  Meyer 
('Phil.  Zeitfragen,'  kap.  ix.),  and  various  other  writers, 
have  touched  on  the  subject.  It  is  lamentable  to  ob- 
serve how  widely  heathenish  and  even  brutish  senti- 
ments as  to  individual  and  social  morality  are  springing 
forth,  especially  in  Germany,  from  the  materialism  which 
is  at  present  prevalent. 

The  argument  from  conscience  against  materialism 
is  thus  stated  by  an  able  American  author,  Prof.  G,  P. 
Fisher :  "  No  man  of  sane  mind  can  deny  that  the 
phenomena  of  the  moral  nature  are  as  real  as  any  which 
the  senses  or  instruments  of  a  physicist  can  observe. 
They  are  facts  which  science,  in  the  large  sense  of  the 
term,  must  take  notice  of  or  abdicate  its  functions.  To 
ignore  the  vast  and  various  phenomena  which  connect 
themselves  with  the  sense  of  moral  responsibleness  is 
impossible.  What  account  shall  be  given  of  moral 
praise  and  blame — of  self- approval  and  censure?  Here 
these  feelings  are,  and  here  they  always  have  been.  Do 
they  testify  to  the  truth  ?    If  they  do  not,  then  away  with 

502  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

the  language  which  only  serves  to  deceive ;  away  with 
all  the  multiform  expressions  of  moral  approbation  or 
condemnation ;  away  with  courts  of  law  and  the  other 
infinitely  various  manifestations  of  the  sense  of  justice 
and  moral  accountableness  on  which  the  entire  fabric 
of  social  life  reposes  !  The  evolutionist  must  allow 
that  these  verdicts  of  the  moral  faculty,  be  their  genesis 
what  it  may,  are  as  valid  as  are  any  judgments  of  the 
intellect.  The  moral  discernment  rests  on  as  solid  a 
foundation  as  the  intellectual  perceptions.  Now  apply 
the  doctrine  that  the  determinations  of  the  will  —  the 
faithfulness  of  St  John  and  the  treachery  of  Judas 
alike  —  are  the  necessary  effect  of  atomic  movements 
of  matter.  They  simply  indicate  a  certain  molecular 
action  of  the  matter  in  a  corner  of  the  brain.  Their 
moral  approval  or  condemnation,  the  joy  of  one  who 
has  triumphed  over  a  temptation,  the  remorse  of  one 
who  has  betrayed  the  innocent,  are  the  veriest  folly. 
A  man  who  maliciously  shoots  his  neighbour  has  no 
more  occasion  to  blame  himself  for  the  deed  than  has 
a  horse  who  destroys  a  man's  life  by  a  kick.  Men  call 
such  an  animal,  in  figurative  speech,  a  vicious  animal; 
and  if  materialism  is  true,  there  is  no  other  kind  of  vice 
possible  to  a  human  being.  Tyndall,  in  one  of  his  late 
productions,  argues  that  this  doctrine  of  molecular  ethics 
is  perfectly  consistent  with  the  application  of  motives  for 
the  purpose  of  inducing  men  to  act  in  one  way  rather 
than  another.  These  motives,  it  is  implied,  are  forces 
thrown  into  the  scale  that  the  beam  may  rise  on  the 
opposite  side.  This  is  the  statement  which  fatalists  of 
every  time  are  for  ever  making.  But  the  point  insisted 
upon  is  not  the  freedom  of  the  will  as  found  by  direct 
consciousness,  although  this  evidence  of  man's   moral 

Appendix:  Note  XIX,  503 

freedom  is  incontrovertible ;  but  the  phenomena  of 
moral  approval  and  disapproval,  of  guilt,  self-accusation, 
and  remorse,  are  the  facts  demanding  some  explanation 
which  shall  not  destroy  their  reality  in  the  very  act 
of  attempting  to  explain  them.  Here  it  is  that  the 
materialistic  psychology  breaks  down.  Nor  can  it  be 
said  that  this  is  opposing  a  doctrine  by  merely  pointing 
out  its  mischievous  consequences.  The  affirmations  of 
conscience  referred  to  as  putting  to  rout  the  advocates 
of  materialism  are  as  truly  perceptions  and  judgments 
as  are  any  of  the  propositions  that  result  from  the 
exercise  of  the  senses  or  the  understanding.  If  mate- 
rialistic evolution,  as  predicated  of  moral  action,  be 
true,  the  rational  nature  is  at  war  with  itself.  There  is 
an  insoluble  contradiction  in  human  intelligence  itself, 
which  no  sophistical  juggle  of  words  can  avail  to  cover 
up,  much  less  to  remove." — 'Princeton  Review,'  January 
1878,  pp.  210,  211. 

Principal  Tulloch,  in  the  first  of  his  '  Croall  Lectures,' 
makes  some  interesting  remarks  to  the  same  effect. 
What  he  says  of  ''sin,"  for  example,  in  the  following 
passage  may  be  applied  to  all  the  phenomena  of  our 
moral  consciousness.  "  It " — the  doctrine  of  materialistic 
evolution — "leaves  no  room  for  the  idea  of  sin.  For 
that  which  is  solely  a  growth  of  nature  cannot  contain 
anything  that  is  at  variance  with  its  own  higher  laws. 
If  the  individual  and  social  man  alike  are  merely  the 
outcome  of  natural  forces  working  endlessly  forward 
toward  higher  and  more  complex  forms,  then,  whatever 
man  is,  he  is  not  and  cannot  be  a  sinner.  The  mixed 
product  of  internal  and  external  forces — of  what  is  called 
organism  and  environment — he  may,  at  certain  stages 
of  his  progress,  be  very  defective.     But  he  has  not  fallen 

504  Anti-Theistic  Theo7'ies. 

below  any  ideal  he  might  have  reached.  He  is  only  at 
any  point  what  the  sum  of  natural  factors  which  enter 
into  his  being  have  made  him.  The  two  conceptions  of 
sin  and  of  development,  in  this  naturalistic  sense,  can- 
not coexist.  I  cannot  be  the  outcome  of  natural  law 
and  yet  accountable  for  the  fact  that  I  am  no  better 
than  I  am." 

Carneri,  Jaeger,  and  others  have  attempted  to  apply 
Darwinism  to  morals.  Miss  Cobbe,  Ebrard,  R.  Schmid, 
Triimpelmann,  Wigand,  and  others,  have  criticised  it  in 
this  relation. 

Note  XX.,  page  183. 
Positivism  and  its  Schools. 

The  chief  works  regarding  positivism  published  before 

1874  are  mentioned  on  p.  259  of  my  'Philosophy  of 
History  in  France  and  Germany.'  The  following  publi- 
cations may  be  specified  as  among  the  most  important 
which  have  appeared  on  the  subject  since  that  date  : 
Many  excellent  papers  by  M.  Pillon,  and  some  by  M. 
Renouvier,  in  the  '  Critique  Philosophique '  for  the  years  * 

1875  and  1878;  'La  Philosophic  Positive,'  a  review, 
edited  by  MM.  Littre  and  Wyrouboff ;  '  La  Revue  Occi- 
dentale,'  edited  by  M.  Pierre  Lafitte;  the  articles  of 
Mr  Harrison  on  "The  Religious  and  Conservative 
Aspects  of  Positivism,"  in  the  '  Contemporary  Review,' 
vols.  XX vi.  and  xxvii. ;  E.  Littre',  '  Fragments  de  Philoso- 
phic Positive'  (1876);  and  M.  Ferraz,  'Etude  sur  la 
Philosophic  en  France,'  ch.  vi.  (1877). 

Appendix:  Note  XX.  505 

Positivists  who  acknowledge  any  allegiance  to  Comte 
may  be  thus  grouped  in  relation  to  him.  First,  those 
who  accept  his  system  as  a  whole — the  philosophy,  the 
polity,  and  the  religion.  Their  head,  the  present  Comt- 
ist  pontiff,  is  M.  Lafitte ;  and  among  their  representa- 
tives in  France  are  M.  Audiffrent,  Dr  Robinet,  and  M. 
Semerie ;  and  in  England  Dr  Bridges,  Mr  Congreve,  and 
Mr  Harrison.  Their  literary  organ  is  the  *  Revue  Occi- 
dentale.'  Second,  those  who  accept  the  entire  general 
philosophy  of  Comte,  but  reject  his  polity  and  religion. 
Their  acknowledged  chief  is  M.  Littre'  \  and  M.  Naquet, 
Dr  Robin,  and  M.  Wyrouboff  are  among  their  best 
known  representatives.  Their  organ,  'La  Philosophic 
Positive,'  was  founded  in  1867.  Third,  those  who  do 
not  accept  even  the  philosophy  of  Comte  as  a  whole, 
but  who  profess  to  receive  the  spirit,  method,  and  prin- 
ciples of  his  teaching  as  to  the  doctrine  of  science.  They 
are  often  called  English  positivists,  although,  of  course, 
writers  like  M.  Taine  must  be  inchided  among  them. 
They,  are  simply  phenomenalists  and  experimentalists. 
They  have  no  common  system  of  doctrine,  and  their 
Comtism  is  so  variable  as  to  be  indefinable. 

Positivism  is  a  hopelessly  ambiguous  term,  and  has 
been  claimed  by  and  applied  to  diverse  and  dissimilar 
theories.  Some  consider  themselves  positivists  because 
they  are  positive  that  matter  is  the  only  reality ;  others 
because  they  are  positive  that  sensation  is  the  source  and 
measure  of  all  knowledge ;  others  because  they  are  posi- 
tive that  there  is  no  God,  no  soul,  and  no  future  life ; 
others  because  they  are  positive  that  there  is  nothing 
positively  certain ;  and  others  for  other  reasons. 

5o6  Anti'Theistic  Theories. 

Note  XXI.,  page  193. 
PosiTiviST  Law  of  Three  States. 

Mr  J.  Morley  and  Dr  Paulsen  have  expressed  their 
dissent  from  my  views  as  to  Comte's  so-called  "  law  of 
three  states,"  but  neither  of  them  has  ventured  to  face 
the  facts  which  I  adduced  as  irreconcilable  with  it.  My 
account  of  its  history  has  been  abundantly  confirmed  by 
M.  Pillon  in  Nos.  6,  8,  10,  11,  23,  24,  and  25,  of  the 
'  Critique  Philosophique  'for  1875.  These  articles  gave 
much  offence  to  M.  Audififrent,  Robinet,  Semerie,  and 
the  orthodox  positivists  generally,  but  they  are  most 
accurate  and  conclusive. 

Dr  Paulsen's  reason  (see  his  able  review  of  my  '  Philo- 
sophy of  History '  in  the  '  Zeitschrift  fur  Volkerpsycho- 
logie,'  Bd.  8,  Hft.  4)  for  maintaining  the  consistency  of 
Comte's  alleged  law  with  theism,  is  that  theism  is  a  form 
of  belief,  but  not  a  kind  of  knowledge.  There  is  here 
involved  a  twofold  oversight :  for,  first,  Comte's  law  is 
not  a  law  of  states  of  knowledge,  but  of  states  of  be- 
lief; and,  second,  the  assertion  that  theism  is  belief  but 
not  knowledge  is  unproved,  and  stands  in  great  need 
of  proof. 

Appendix:  Note  XX IL  507 

Note  XXIL,  page  209. 
The    Positivist    Religion. 

There  is  an  excellent  account  of  the  Comtist  religion, 
and  much  interesting  information  as  to  its  history,  in  the 
article  "  Positivism  "  in  the  '  North  British  Review,'  Sept. 

As  to  the  French  orthodox  positivists,  M.  Ribot  re- 
marks,—  "Many  of  them  are  animated  with  a  truly 
religious  faith,  and  I  have  heard  them  speak  with  an 
enthusiasm  worthy  of  the  brightest  epoch  of  the  middle 
age."  They  can  hardly  surpass  in  zeal  and  unction 
some  of  their  English  brethren.  The  '  Sermons '  of  Mr 
Congreve,  and  the  articles  of  Mr  Harrison  on  the  reli- 
gious aspects  of  positivism,  show  pulpit  qualifications  of 
a  very  high  order,  and  especially  a  fervour  which  reminds 
one  sometimes  of  Jeremy  Taylor,  and  sometimes  of 
Samuel  Rutherford. 

Dr  M 'Cosh's  '  Positivism  and  Christianity '  is  less 
rhetorical  but  more  reasonable.  Mr  C.  Staniland  Wake, 
in  '  The  Evolution  of  Morality,'  vol.  ii.  ch.  viii.,  takes, 
perhaps,  somewhat  too  favourable  a  view  of  the  "  Reli- 
gion of  Humanity."  He  recognises,  however,  the  defects 
in  Comte's  conception  of  the  Grand -Etre,  and  justly 
insists  that  the  merits  which  it  possesses  are  ethical 
rather  than  religious. 

5o8  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

Note  XXIII.,  page  233. 

History    of    Secularism. 

Jeremy  Bentham,  James  Mill,  Thomas  Paine,  Robert 
Taylor,  Richard  Carlile,  and  Robert  Owen,  may  be  de- 
scribed as  those  who  directly  prepared  the  way  for  the 
secularist  movement.  Bentham  and  Mill  did  so  by  the 
manner  in  which  they  inculcated  utilitarianism  and  polit- 
ical reform,  not  by  the  explicit  avowal  of  their  atheistical 
opinions.  As  to  their  attitude  towards  religion,  see  Pro- 
fessor Bain's  remarks  in  '  Mind/  vol.  ii.  p.  527,  and  J.  S. 
Mill's  Autobiography,  pp.  38-44,  69,  70.  The  attacks  of 
Paine,  Taylor,  and  Carlile  on  Christianity  were  animated 
by  a  spirit  which  could  not  stop  short  of  bitter  antagonism 
to  all  religion.  There  is  a  memoir  of  Paine  by  Cheetham 
(1809),  and  another  by  Rickman  (18 15);  an  account  of 
Taylor  in  Iconoclast,  and  Watts'  '  Half-Hours  with  the 
Freethinkers ; '  and  a  notice  of  Carlile,  by  Holyoake 
(1853).  Paine  and  Taylor  professed  to  be  deists;  the 
latest  creed  of  Carlile  was  a  kind  of  naturalism  presented 
in  a  strange  semi-scriptural  phraseology.  Paine's  views 
must  be  sought  for  in  his  Theological  Works ;  Taylor's 
in  the  '  Devil's  Pulpit '  and  '  Diegesis ; '  and  Carlile's  in  the 
volumes  of  the  '  Republican,'  '  Lion,'  '  Christian  Warrior,' 
&c.  The  influence  of  the  benevolent  utopianist,  Robert 
Owen,  was  decidedly  secularist  and  anti-religious.  He 
identified  God  with  nature,  or  at  least  with  "  the  mys- 
terious power  in  nature  which  permeates  every  particle 
of  the  elements  which  compose  the  universe."  A  list  of 
his  principal  works  will  be  found  in  Mr  Holyoake's 
notice  of  his  'Life  and  Last  Days'  (1859). 

Appendix:  Note  XXI  11.  509 

Perhaps  the  earliest  periodical  organ  of  popular  atheism 
in  this  country  was  the  '  Oracle  of  Reason,'  the  first 
number  of  which  appeared  in  November  6,  1841,  and 
the  last  on  December  2,  1843.  ^^  the  course  of  its  brief 
existence  it  had  four  editors — Charles  Southwell,  George 
Jacob  Holyoake,  Thomas  Paterson,  and  William  Chilton, 
the  first  three  being  in  rapid  succession  imprisoned  for 
blasphemy.  Mr  Southwell,  when  his  term  of  imprison- 
ment was  expired,  started,  in  1842,  the  ^Investigator;' 
and  in  1843  'The  Movement'  succeeded  the  '  Oracle  of 
Reason.'  These  periodicals  advocated  opinions  of  the 
same  kind  as  those  which  are  at  present  maintained  in 
more  temperate  and  becoming  language  by  the  '  National 
Reformer,'  'Secular  Review,'  and  '  Liberal.'  Their  chief 
contributors  may  be  said  to  have  been  the  representa- 
tives of  the  first  generation  of  secularists.  Mr  Holyoake 
is  probably  the  only  one  of  them  of  any  note  still  alive. 
In  '  Half-Hours  with  Freethinkers '  there  is  an  account  of 
Mr  Charles  Southwell ;  also  of  Mrs  Emma  Martin,  who 
likewise  belonged  to  the  earliest  secularist  group. 

In  1 85 1  Mr  Holyoake  first  made  use  of  the  term 
"  Secularist,"  as  more  appropriate  and  distinctive  than 
"Atheist;"  and  in  1852  he  commenced  organising  the 
English  freethinkers  according  to  the  principles  of  secu- 
larism. For  a  short  time  he  had  an  ally  in  Mr  Thomas 
Cooper,  but  in  1856  this  honest  and  courageous  man 
became  convinced  of  the  truth  of  Christianity.  Mr 
Holyoake  edited  for  many  years  a  periodical  called  the 
'  Reasoner.'  His  most  interesting  work  is,  '  The  Trial  oi 
Theism'  (1858).  I  willingly  acknowledge  that  it  con- 
tains much  which  is  suggestive,  and  much  even  which  is 
true  and  important,  although  I  naturally  deem  its  criti- 
cism of  theism  very  inconclusive.     Of  Mr   Holyoake's 

510  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

discussions  the  best  known,  perhaps,  are  the  Cooper 
Street  and  the  Glasgow  discussions  with  the  Rev. 
Brewin  Grant,  the  discussion  with  the  Rev.  Mr 
Townley,  and  the  discussion  with  Mr  Bradlaugh.  The 
biographical  and  critical  essay  of  Sophia  Dobson  Collet, 
entitled  "George  Jacob  Holyoake  and  Modern  Atheism  " 
(1855),  is  well  worthy  of  perusal.  Mr  Austin  Holyoake 
has  aided  his  brother  in  attacking  Christianity  and 
theism,  and  is  the  author  of  "Thoughts  on  Atheism," 
"  Does  there  Exist  a  Moral  Governor  of  the  Universe  ?  " 
and  several  other  pamphlets. 

Among  the  most  active  and  prominent  younger  secu- 
larists the  following  may  be  mentioned :  i.  Charles 
Bradlaugh,  President  of  the  National  Secular  Society, 
editor  of  the  '  National  Reformer,'  author  of  '  The  Free- 
thinkers' Text-book,'  pt.  i. ;  '  A  Plea  for  Atheism  ; '  and 
many  political  and  anti-religious  pamphlets.  Mr  Brad- 
laugh has  displayed  great  controversial  activity.  Ot 
his  numerous  discussions,  I  may  mention  these :  (a) 
The  Credibility  and  Morality  of  the  Four  Gospels.  The 
authorised  and  verbatim  Report  of  the  Five  Nights'  Dis- 
cussion, at  Halifax,  between  the  Rev.  T.  D.  Matthias, 
Baptist  Minister,  and  Iconoclast:  London,  i860,  (b) 
A  Discussion  on  the  question,  Has  Man  a  Soul  ?  between 
the  Rev.  T.  Lawson  of  Bacup,  and  Iconoclast  of  Lon- 
don: Manchester,  1 86 1.  (<;)  Christianity  and  Secularism  ; 
Report  of  a  Public  Discussion  between  Mr  W.  Hutchings 
and  Mr  C.  Bradlaugh,  held  in  the  Public  Hall,  Wigan, 
on  February  4  and  5,  186 1,  on  the  question,  Whether 
is  Christianity  or  Secularism  best  calculated  to  promote 
human  happiness?  Wigan,  1861.  (d)  A  Full  Report  of 
the  Discussion  between  Mr  Mackie  (editor  of  the  *  War- 
rington Guardian')  and  Iconoclast   (Mr  Bradlaugh)  in 

Appendix:  Note  XX III.  511 

the  Music  Hall,  Warrington,  April  10  and  11,  1861,  on 
the  question,  What  does  the  Bible  teach  about  God  ?  Lon- 
don :  Ward  &  Co.  {e)  The  Existence  of  God :  A  Dis- 
cussion between  Rev.  Woodville  Woodman,  Minister  of 
the  New  Jerusalem  Church,  Kersley,  Lancashire,  and 
Iconoclast,  editor  of  the  'National  Reformer,'  held  at 
Wigan,  on  February  18  to  21,  1861.  London:  J.  S.  Hod- 
son.  (/)  Is  the  Bible  a  Divine  Revelation  ?  A  Discussion 
between  Rev.  W.  Woodman  and  Iconoclast,  held  at 
Ashton-under-Lyne,onOctober  2ist,  2 2d,  28th,  and  29th: 
London,  1861.  i^g)  Modern  Atheism  and  the  Bible: 
Report  of  the  Discussion  between  the  Rev.  W.  Barker, 
Minister  of  Church  Street  Chapel,  Blackfriars,  and 
Iconoclast,  editor  of  the  '  National  Reformer,'  held  at 
Cowper  Street  Schoolroom,  September  1862  :  London. 
(//)  Two  Nights'  Public  Discussion  between  Thomas 
Cooper  and  Charles  Bradlaugh,  on  the  Being  of  a  God 
as  the  Maker  and  Moral  Governor  of  the  Universe,  at 
the  Hall  of  Science,  London,  February  i  and  2,  1864. 
(/)  What  does  Christian  Theism  Teach  ?  verbatim  Re- 
port of  the  Two  Nights'  Discussion  between  the  Rev. 
A.  J.  Harrison  and  C.  Bradlaugh:  London,  1872.  (y) 
South  Place  Debate  between  Rev.  B.  Grant  and  C. 
Bradlaugh:  London,  1875.  For  a  Church  of  England 
clergyman's  view  of  Mr  Bradlaugh  and  the  Secular 
Movement,  see  '  Heterodox  London,'  by  Dr  Maurice 

2.  Charles  Watts,  editor  of  the  *  Secular  Review,' 
author  of  "  Christian  Evidences  Criticised,"  "  Why  am  I 
an  Atheist?"  "  Secularism  in  its  Various  Relations,"  and 
other  pamphlets.  Of  the  discussions  in  which  he  has 
taken  part,  those  of  which  I  have  seen  reports  are : 
{a)  Debate  on  the  Christian  Evidences  between  Mr  C. 

512  A  nti-  TJieistic  TJieories. 

Watts  and  B.  H.  Cooper,  Esq.,  at  Stratford,  February 
1 6  and  23,  187 1  :  London,  {b)  Full  Eeport  of  the 
Public  Discussion  on  the  question,  Is  the  Belief  in  an 
Infinite  Personal  Being  Reasonable  and  Beneficial? 
between  the  Rev.  Wm.  Adamson,  Evangelical  Union 
Minister,  Edinburgh,  and  Mr  C.  Watts,  Accredited 
Agent  of  the  National  Secular  Society,  London,  in  the 
New  Waverley  Hall,  Edinburgh,  on  4th  and  5th  of 
March  1872  :  Glasgow  and  London,  {c)  Four  Nights' 
Public  Discussion  between  the  Rev.  A.  Stewart  (of 
Aberdeen)  and  Mr  C.  Watts,  on, — Is  the  Belief  in  the 
Being  of  an  Infinite  Personal  God  Reasonable?  and 
Are  the  Four  Gospels  Authentic  and  worthy  of  Credit? 
London,  1873. 

3.  George  William  Foote,  editor  of  the  '  Liberal,'  and 
author  of  '  Secularism  Restated,'  &c.  He  seeks  to  follow 
a  via  media  between  the  paths  of  Mr  Holyoake  and  Mr 

4.  Annie  Besant,  who  has  written  Part  11.  of  the 
'  Freethinkers'    Text  -  book,'    '  My   Path    to    Atheism,' 

*  History  of  the  Great  French  Revolution,'  '  The  Gospel 
of  Atheism,'  and  various  pamphlets.  These  works  dis- 
play talents  which  might  have  done  much  service  in  a 
good  cause. 

In  some  of  the  discussions  to  which  I  have  referred 
the  anti-secularist  position  is  well  defended — as,  for  ex- 
ample, by  the  Rev.  Mr  Adamson,  Mr  Hutchings,  the 
Rev.   T.   Lawson,  and  the  Rev.    Mr  Woodman.     The 

*  Fallacies  of  Secularism,'  by  Dr  Sexton,  is  judicious  and 
able.  I  am  not  aware  that  there  is  any  good  account  of 
the  history  of  secularism. 

Appendix:  Note  XXIV.  513 

Note  XXIV.,  page  249. 
The  Atheism  of  Secularism. 

I  have  not  dealt  specially  with  the  arguments  em- 
ployed by  secularists  in  favour  of  atheism,  because  there 
is  nothing  special  in  these  arguments. 

Mr  Holyoake's  attempt  to  overthrow  the  design  argu- 
ment by  extending  it,  is  the  most  original  and  distinctive 
portion  of  his  reasoning  against  theism.  It  will  be  found 
in  his  '  Paley  Refuted,'  '  Trial  of  Theism,'  '  Discussion 
with  Townley,'  &c.  Conceding  for  his  purj^ose  that  the 
design  argument  proves  the  personality  of  a  Designer,  he 
contends  that  all  analogy  and  experience  prove  that 
twQYj person  is  organised — that  wherever  there  is  intel- 
ligence there  must  be  a  brain,  senses,  and  nerves — and 
concludes  that  the  organisation  of  Deity  must  teem  with 
marks  of  design,  not  less  than  other  organisations,  and 
consequently  that  Deity  can  only  be  thought  of  as  a 
being  who  has  had  a  maker.  If  the  view  I  have  given 
of  the  design  argument  be  correct,  such  reasoning  as  this 
is  obviously  irrelevant.  The  design  argument  is  from 
order  to  inteUigence,  and  to  intelligence  only.  Its  infer- 
ence is  in  no  degree  or  respect  to  organisation — to  brain, 
senses,  and  nerves. 

Miss  Collet,  in  the  essay  mentioned  in  the  previous 
note,  has  some  interesting  remarks  on  Mr  Holyoake's 
argument ;  and  Dr  J.  Buchanan,  in  *  Faith  in  God  and 
IModern  Atheism,'  vol.  ii.  pp.  242-261,  refutes  it  in  a 
most  elaborate  manner. 

This  singular  argument,  which  Mr  Holyoake  many 
years  ago  rendered  familiar  to  English  working  men,  has 
2  K 

514  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

recently  been  reproduced  by  the  late  Prof.  Clifford  and 
the  distinguished  German  physiologist  Du  Bois-Rey- 
mond,  and  addressed  by  them  to  scientifically  educated 
persons.  I  quote  the  words  of  Du  Bois-Reymond  in 
order  to  have  the  pleasure  of  quoting  also  a  part  of  the 
admirable  reply  given  to  them  by  Dr  Martin eau.  Du 
Bois-Reymond's  words  are:  "What  can  you  say  then 
to  the  student  of  nature  if,  before  he  allows  a  psychical 
principle  to  the  universe,  he  asks  to  be  shown,  some- 
where within  it,  embedded  in  neurine  and  fed  with  warm 
arterial  blood  under  proper  pressure,  a  convolution  of 
ganglionic  globules  and  nerve-tubes  proportioned  in  size 
to  the  faculties  of  such  a  mind."  Dr  Martineau's  words 
are  :  '"What  can  we  say ? '  I  say,  first  of  all,  that  this 
demand  for  a  Divine  brain  and  nerves  and  arteries  comes 
strangely  from  those  who  reproach  the  theist  with  '  an- 
thropomorphism.' In  order  to  believe  in  God,  they 
must  be  assured  that  the  plates  in  '  Quain's  Anatomy ' 
truly  represent  Him.  If  it  be  a  disgrace  to  religion  to 
take  the  human  as  measure  of  the  Divine,  what  place  in 
the  scale  of  honour  can  we  assign  to  this  stipulation? 
Next,  I  ask  my  questioner  whether  he  suspends  belief  in 
his  friend's  mental  powers  till  he  has  made  sure  of  the 
contents  of  their  crania?  and  whether,  in  the  case  of 
ages  beyond  reach,  there  are  no  other  adequate  vestiges 
of  intellectual  and  moral  life  in  which  he  places  a  ready 
trust  ?  Immediate  knowledge  of  mind  other  than  his  own 
he  can  never  have  :  its  existence  in  other  cases  is  gath- 
ered from  the  signs  of  its  activity,  whether  in  personal 
lineaments  or  in  products  stamped  with  thought :  and 
to  stop  this  process  of  inference  with  the  discovery  of 
huma7i  beings  is  altogether  arbitrary,  till  it  is  shown  that 
the  grounds  for  extending  it  are  inadequate.     Further,  I 

Appejidix:  Note  XXIV.  515 

would  submit  that,  in  dealing  with  the  problem  of  the 
Universal  Mind,  this  demand  for  organic  centralisation 
is  strangely  inappropriate.  It  is  when  mental  power  has 
to  be  localised,  bounded,  lent  out  to  individual  natures, 
and  assigned  to  a  scene  of  definite  relations,  that  a  focus 
must  be  found  for  it,  and  a  molecular  structure  with  de- 
terminate periphery  be  built  for  its  lodgment.  And  were 
Du  Bois-Reymond  himself  ever  to  alight  on  the  por- 
tentous cerebrum  which  he  imagines,  I  greatly  doubt 
whether  he  would  fulfil  his  promise  and  turn  theist  at 
the  sight :  that  he  had  found  the  Cause  of  causes  would 
be  the  last  inference  it  would  occur  to  him  to  draw: 
rather  would  he  look  round  for  some  monstrous  creature, 
some  kosmic  megatherium,  born  to  float  and  pasture  on 
the  fields  of  space.  .  .  .  Quite  in  the  sense  of  Du 
Bois-Reymond's  objection  was  the  saying  of  Laplace, 
that  in  scanning  the  whole  heaven  with  the  telescope 
he  found  no  God ;  which  again  has  its  parallel  in  Law- 
rence's remark  that  the  scalpel,  in  opening  the  brain, 
came  upon  no  soul.  Both  are  unquestionably  true, 
and  it  is  precisely  the  truth  of  the  second  which  viti- 
ates the  intended  inference  from  the  first.  Had  the 
scalpel  alighted  on  some  perceptible  i/^^x^y,  we  might 
have  required  of  the  telescope  to  do  the  same ;  and,  on 
its  bringing  in  a  dumb  report,  have  concluded  that  there 
was  only  mechanism  there.  But,  in  spite  of  the  knife's 
failure,  we  positively  know  that  conscious  thought  and 
will  were  present,  yet  no  more  visible,  yesterday:  and 
so,  that  the  telescope  misses  all  but  the  bodies  of  the 
universe  and  their  light,  avails  nothing  to  prove  the 
absence  of  a  Living  Mind  through  all.  If  you  take  the 
wrong  instruments,  such  quaesita  may  well  evade  you. 
The  test-tube  will  not  detect  an  insincerity,  or  the  micro- 

5i6  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

scope  analyse  a  grief.  The  organism  of  nature,  like  that 
of  the  brain,  lies  open,  in  its  external  features,  to  the 
scrutiny  of  science ;  but,  on  the  inner  side,  the  life  of 
both  is  reserved  for  other  modes  of  apprehension,  of 
which  the  base  is  self- consciousness  and  the  crown  is 
rehgion." — '  Modern  MateriaHsm,'  pp.  66-69. 

The  most  distinctive  and  peculiar  feature,  perhaps,  in 
the  atheism  of  Mr  Bradlaugh,  is  the  extent  to  which  it  is 
rested  on  the  notion  of  substance  enunciated  by  Spinoza 
in  the  definition  —  "Substance  is  that  which  exists  in 
itself,  and  is  conceived  per  se  ;  in  other  words,  the  con- 
ception of  which  does  not  require  the  conception  of 
anything  else  antecedent  to  it."  It  is  strange  that  Mr 
Bradlaugh  should  not  have  seen  that  this  notion,  this 
definition,  implies  that  we  can  have  a  priori  and  absolute 
knowledge,  and  is  utterly  incompatible  with  the  doc- 
trine that  all  our  knowledge  is  relative  and  based  on  the 
senses.  If  he  can  conceive  substance  per  se,  and  not 
merely  through  its  qualities,  effects,  and  relationships  to 
his  own  faculties,  he  is  logically  bound  to  abandon  sen- 
sationalism and  all  its  consequences,  and  betake  himself 
to  absolute  idealism  or  to  mysticism.  Indeed,  following 
in  the  footsteps  of  Spinoza,  he  actually  treads  for  a  short 
distance  the  high  a  priori  road,  without  apparently  being 
aware  that  he  is  on  it,  and  gets  as  far  as  the  conclusion 
that  there  is  only  one  substance.  It  is  to  be  regretted 
that  he  should  not  have  more  carefully  inquired  whether 
there  is  even  one.  I  have  never  seen  it  proved  that  there 
i5  even  one  substance  in  Spinoza's  sense  of  the  term. 
Defining  substance  in  the  way  indicated,  the  creation  or 
origination  of  substance  is,  of  course,  absolutely  incon- 
ceivable to  Mr  Bradlaugh.  If  we  mean  by  substance 
only  what  is  self-existent,  the  creation  of  substance  is  a 

Appendix:  Note  XXIV.  517 

manifestly  self-contradictory  expression,  equivalent  to  the 
origination  of  the  imoriginated. 

"Substance"  is  not  the  only  metaphysical  spectre 
which  haunts  the  mind  and  disturbs  the  reasonings  of 
Mr  Bradlaugh.  "  Infinity  "  is  nearly  as  bad.  In  fact,  for 
a  person  possessed  of  a  typically  English  intellect,  Mr 
Bradlaugh  shows,  in  dealing  with  theism,  a  curious  pre- 
dilection for  metaphysical  conundrums.  As  a  good  ex- 
ample of  this,  I  may  adduce  the  reasoning  by  which  he 
endeavours,  in  a  criticism  of  my  volume  on  *  Theism ' 
(see  'National  Reformer,'  Dec.  23,  1877),  to  show  that 
the  universe  cannot  have  been  originated  by  God. 
"This  new  universe,"  he  says,  "was  either  better  than 
God,  or  it  was  worse  than  God,  or  it  was  identical  with 
God.  But  it  could  not  have  been  better  than  the  infin- 
itely perfect.  Nor  can  the  infinitely  good  be  conceived 
as  capable  of  resulting  in  that  which  was  a  deterioration. 
Nor  can  the  theory  of  absolute  sameness  be  maintained, 
as  this  would  render  it  impossible  to  distinguish  between 
the  creator  and  the  created."  From  this  argument,  it 
would  appear  that  Mr  Bradlaugh's  idea  of  an  infinitely 
perfect  Being  is  that  of  a  Being  unable  to  produce  any 
finite  effect.  According  to  his  view,  infinite  perfection 
is  equivalent  to  utter  weakness.  This  rivals  Hegel's 
'  Being  and  Not-Being  are  the  Same.'  Mr  Bradlaugh 
thus  proceeds  :  "  This  new  universe  must  have  been 
something  added  to  that  which  existed  prior  to  its  origi- 
nation, or  it  was  nothing  added.  But  the  instant  you 
conceive  something  added  to  God,  you  fatally  impugn 
His  infinity,  or  you  succeed  in  affirming  infinity  and  the 
new  universe  added  to  it — which  is  nonsense."  Let  Mr 
Bradlaugh  try  another  application  of  this  reasoning,  and 
he  will  hardly  fail  to  see  that  it  is  a  mere  metaphysical 

5i8  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

cobweb.  He  himself  exists,  and,  being  of  a  certain  size, 
fills  a  certain  amount  of  space.  Yet  before  he  existed, 
space  was  infinite,  and  whether  he  existed  or  not  space 
would  be  infinite.  Does  his  existence,  then,  fatally  im- 
pugn the  infinity  of  space?  And  unless  it  be  nonsense 
to  affirm  infinity  and  Mr  Bradlaugh  added  to  it,  why 
should  it  be  nonsense  to  affirm  infinity  and  the  universe 
added  to  it?  Mr  Bradlaugh  continues:  "You  affirm 
that  the  universe  owes  its  existence  to  the  reason  and 
will  of  God — that  is,  that  the  universe  did  not  always 
exist,  but  that  God  reasoned  about  it  and  decided  that 
it  should  exist.  Now,  as  the  universe  did  not  always 
exist,  prior  to  its  origination  its  non-existence  must  have 
been  reasonable  or  unreasonable  to  God.  But  it  cannot 
be  supposed  that  the  infinitely  wise  and  powerful  would 
have  endured  the  unreasonable ;  therefore,  while  the 
universe  did  not  yet  exist,  its  non-existence  must  have 
been  reasonable.  But  if  it  ever  were  unreasonable  that 
the  universe  should  exist,  and  if  God  was  then  the  sole 
infinite  existence,  and  infinitely  wise,  it  would  have  al- 
ways been  unreasonable  that  the  universe  should  origi- 
nate, and  there  would  never  have  been  any  creation." 
It  is  hardly  necessary  to  point  out  that  Mr  Bradlaugh 
here  confounds  reason  with  reasoning.  No  intelligent 
man  thinks  or  speaks  of  God  as  reasoning.  But  stranger 
even  than  this  oversight  is  the  conception  of  infinite 
wisdom  implied  in  Mr  Bradlaugh's  argument.  Infinite 
wisdom  is  assumed  to  be  incompatible  with  the  origina- 
tion of  anything  finite  at  a  definite  time.  If  so,  infinite 
wisdom  must  be  much  inferior  to  human  wisdom  in  its 
humblest  form. 

There  is  an  impression  in  some  quarters  that  atheism 
is  advocated  in  a  weak  and  unskilful  manner  bv  the  chiefs 

Appendix:  Note  XXV.  519 

of  secularism  It  is  an  impression  in  which  I  do  not 
share.  Most  of  the  writers  who  are  striving  to  diffuse 
atheism  in  literary  circles  are  not  to  be  compared  in 
intellectual  strength  with  either  Mr  Holyoake  or  Mr 
Bradlaugh.  The  working  men  of  England  may  be  as- 
sured that  they  have  heard  from  the  secularists  nearly 
everything  in  behalf  of  atheism  which  is  at  all  plausible. 

Note  XXV.,  page  253. 
Darwinism  and  the  Universality  of  Religion. 

Darwinians  are  obviously  not  logically  bound  to  deny 
that  religion  is  a  universal  characteristic  of  the  human 
race.  They  may  even  quite  consistently  maintain  that 
traces  of  it  will  be  found  not  only  among  all  tribes  of 
men,  but  among  various  species  of  animals.  And  this 
is  what  several  of  them  actually  hold. 

Mr  Darwin  himself  merely  ventures  to  suggest  that 
the  dog  is  susceptible  of  "a  distant  approach"  to  re- 
ligious emotion.  He  says :  "  The  feeling  of  religious 
devotion  is  a  highly  complex  one,  consisting  of  love, 
complete  submission  to  an  exalted  and  mysterious 
superior,  a  strong  sense  of  dependence,  fear,  reverence, 
gratitude,  hope  for  the  future,  and  perhaps  other  ele- 
ments. No  being  could  experience  so  complex  an 
emotion  until  advanced  in  his  intellectual  and  moral 
faculties  to  at  least  a  moderately  high  level.  Never- 
theless we  see  some  distant  approach  to  this  state  of 
mind  in  the  deep  love  of  a  dog  for  his  master,  as- 
sociated   with    complete    submission,    some  fear,   and 

520  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

perhaps  other  feelings."  Not  a  few  evolutionists  go 
much  farther,  and,  indeed,  represent  as  evidences  of 
religion  all  the  tokens  of  confidence  and  gratitude  to- 
wards man  displayed  by  the  lower  animals.  IM.  Houzeau 
( '  Etudes  sur  les  Faculte's  Mentales  des  Animaux,'  pp. 
271-273)  thinks  that  there  are  many  persons  and  even 
peoples  not  so  religious  as  the  dog. 

As  to  this  view,  it  may  suffice  to  say  that  trust  and 
gratitude  are  not  in  themselves  religious  emotions. 
They  only  become  so  when  their  objects  are,  or  are 
supposed  to  be,  supernatural  beings.  A  man's  confi- 
dence in  and  affection  to  a  fellow-man  are  not  religious 
emotions.  Why,  then,  should  a  beast's  confidence  in 
or  affection  towards  a  man  be  so  designated?  A  man 
is  not  to  a  dog  an  invisible  being,  an  agent  inaccessible 
to  its  senses.  It  may  be  replied  that  the  object  of 
man's  worship  may  be  a  visible  being,  and  that,  in  fact, 
numerous  peoples  adore  stones,  plants,  and  animals. 
If  the  religion  of  a  man  may  display  itself  in  the 
worship  of  a  beast,  why  should  not  a  beast  show  itself 
to  be  religious  in  the  worship  of  a  man  ?  The  answer 
is  that  a  man  never  worships  a  beast  merely  as  a  beast ; 
while  we  have  no  reason  to  suppose  that  a  beast  in 
trusting  or  loving  a  man  regards  him  as  anything  else 
than  a  man.  When  a  man  worships  a  beast,  he  worships 
it  not  as  what  it  really  is,  but  as  the  type  or  symbol,  the 
mask  or  embodiment,  of  a  Divine  Being.  It  is  some 
unseen  agent — some  mysterious  power — manifested  in, 
or  at  least  somehow  associated  with,  the  beast,  that  he 
really  adores.  Low,  therefore,  as  his  worship  is,  there 
is  a  spiritual  sense — a  consciousness  of  the  Invisible  and 
Divine — at  the  root  of  it.  Can  it  be  shown  that  there 
is  anything  of  the  kind  in  a  dog  when  it  fawns  upon  a 

Appendix:  Note  XXV I.  521 

man,  or  in  a  horse  when,  by  neighing,  it  solicits  human 
assistance  ?  Unless  this  is  shown,  the  act  of  a  human 
being  adoring  even  a  beast  must  be  held  to  be  utterly 
unlike  any  act  of  a  beast  towards  a  man. 

Note  XXVI.,  page  263. 

Alleged  Atheism  of  South  American  Tribes. 

The  words  of  Spix  and  Martius  are  as  follows : 
"Chained  to  the  present,  he  (the  Brazilian  Indian) 
hardly  ever  raises  his  eyes  to  the  starry  firmament.  Yet 
he  is  actuated  by  a  certain  awe  of  some  constellations, 
as  of  everything  that  indicates  a  spiritual  connection  of 
things.  His  chief  attention,  however,  is  not  directed  to 
the  sun,  but  to  the  moon,  according  to  which  he  calcu- 
lates time,  and  from  which  he  is  used  to  deduce  good 
and  evil.  As  all  that  is  good  passes  without  notice  by 
him,  and  only  what  is  disagreeable  makes  an  impression 
on  him,  he  acknowledges  no  cause  of  good,  or  no  God, 
but  only  an  evil  principle  which  meets  him  sometimes  in 
the  form  of  a  lizard,  of  a  man  with  stag's  feet,  of  a  croc- 
odile, or  an  ounce ;  sometimes  transforms  itself  into  a 
swamp,  &c. ;  leads  him  astray,  vexes  him,  brings  him 
into  difficulty  and  danger,  and  even  kills  him.  They 
ascribe  a  direct  intercourse  with  the  demons  to  their 
paje,  who  is  acquainted  with  many  powerful  herbs, 
appears  to  be  at  the  same  time  their  priest  and  phy- 
sician, and  contrives  to  maintain  his  credit  among  them 
by  all  kinds  of  conjuring  tricks.  In  extraordinary  cases 
he  is  applied  to  for  his  advice,  which  he  gives,  after  con- 

522  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

suiting  the  demons,  for  which  purpose  he  generally  uses 
a  dark  tempestuous  night.  Certain  animals,  for  instance, 
a  kind  of  goatsucker,  and  the  screaming  kinds  of  vulture, 
caracarai,  and  caoha,  are  messengers  from  the  dead  to 
the  paje,  and  therefore  highly  respected  by  everybody." 
— '  Travels  in  Brazil,^  b.  iv.  ch.  ii. 

What  Mr  Wallace  says  is :  "I  cannot  make  out  that 
they  have  any  belief  that  can  be  called  a  religion.  They 
appear  to  have  no  definite  idea  of  a  God ;  if  asked  who 
they  think  made  the  rivers,  and  the  forests,  and  the  sky, 
they  will  reply  that  they  do  not  know,  or  sometimes  that 
they  suppose  that  it  was  '  Tupanan,'  a  word  that  appears 
to  answer  to  God,  but  of  which  they  understand  nothing. 
They  have  much  more  definite  ideas  of  a  bad  spirit, 
'Jurapari,'  or  Devil,  whom  they  fear,  and  endeavour 
through  their  paje's  to  propitiate.  When  it  thunders 
they  say  the  '  Jurapari '  is  angry,  and  their  idea  of  nat- 
ural death  is  that  the  Jurapari  kills  them.  At  an  eclipse 
they  believe  that  this  bad  spirit  is  killing  the  moon,  and 
they  make  all  the  noise  they  can  to  frighten  him  away." — 
'  Travels  on  the  Amazons  and  Rio  Negro,'  p.  530  :  1853. 

The  statement  of  Mr  Bates  ( '  The  Naturalist  on  the 
River  Amazons,'  vol.  ii.  ch.  iii.,  pp.  162, 163,  1863)  is  suji- 
stantially  identical  with  that  of  Mr  Wallace,  his  fellow- 
traveller.  The  only  definite  information  in  it  is  that  the 
Indian  Vicente  did  not  know  the  cause  of  lightning, 
and  had  never  reflected  on  who  made  the  sun,  stars,  and 
trees.  If  Vicente  had  known  the  cause  of  lightning  he 
must  have  been  more  learned  than  a  European  savant 
before  the  time  of  Franklin;  and  if  he  had  meditated 
on  the  maker  of  the  sun,  stars,  and  trees,  his  religion 
must  have  been  of  a  more  thoughtful  character  than 
that  of  the  ordinary  ancient  Greek  or  Roman. 

Appendix:  Note  XXVII.  523 

If  Ebrard's  view  (see  *  Apologetik/  ii.  359  and  366) 
of  the  Malayan  origin  of  the  Tupi  tribes  of  South  America 
could  be  established,  it  would  follow  that  these  tribes 
must  have  gradually  fallen  away  from  the  worship  of  one 
supreme  god,  Tupan.  No  one,  I  think,  who  has  not  a 
theory  to  maintain,  can  consider  the  circumstances  in 
which  most  of  the  Brazilian  Indian  tribes  are  placed 
without  coming  to  the  conclusion  that  they  must  have 
sunk  from  a  higher  intellectual  and  religious  level. 
Small  colonies  of  English  or  Irish  peasants  placed  in 
the  same  circumstances  would  be  certain  to  degenerate 

Note  XXVIL,  page  265. 
Alleged  Atheism  of  North  American  Tribes. 

For  the  evidence  which  Waitz  has  collected  as  to  the 
religion  of  the  Indians  of  California,  see  '  Anthropologic 
der  Naturvolker,'  Bd.  iv.  pp.  243,  244.  Father  Baegert's 
account  will  be  found  in  the  Smithsonian  Transactions, 
1863-64,  and  Father  Boscana's  in  Bancroft's  'Native  Races 
of  the  Western  States  of  America,'  vol.  iii.  pp.  161-170. 

The  works  of  Bancroft,  Miiller,  and  Waitz  are  those 
which  contain  most  information  on  the  religion  of  the 
North  American  tribes,  although  the  publications  of 
Catlin,  Schoolcraft,  &c.,  still  retain  their  value.  Dr 
Brinton's  'Myths  of  the  New  World '  (1868)  is  not  always 
as  convincing  as  it  is  interesting. 

It  is  to  be  regretted  that  Miiller  should  have  adopted 
a  theory  which  has  so  little  real  foundation  as  that  the 

524  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

worship  of  ghosts  is  characteristic  of  northern  tribes  and 
cold  regions,  and  the  worship  of  the  sun  of  southern 
tribes  and  warm  regions.  This  theory — which  would 
require  Senegambia,  for  example,  to  be  extremely  cold 
— injuriously  affects  his  exposition,  and  still  more  his 
explanation  of  facts.  But  his  constant  exaggeration 
of  the  power  of  physical  influences  and  comparative 
neglect  of  the  operation  of  historical  causes  do  not 
prevent  his  work  from  being  valuable  as  a  collection 
of  materials. 

Note  XXVIIL,  page  269. 

Alleged  Atheism  of  Polynesians  and 

Jukes  was  only  a  single  day  on  Dalrymple  or  Damood 
Island.  He  found  that  the  people  had  neat  and  good 
huts,  and  he  saw  a  building  different  from,  and  much 
superior  to,  any  of  the  rest.  After  describing  it,  he 
says:  "Whether  this  was  their  temple,  their  place  for 
depositing  the  dead,  or  a  chiefs  house,  we  could  not 
make  out.  We,  however,  saw  no  appearance  of  any 
chief,  or  of  one  man  exercising  authority  among  them ; 
neither  could  we  discover  any  traces  of  religious  belief 
or  observance." — *  Voyage  of  H.M.S.  Fly,'  vol.  i.  p.  164. 
This  testimony  is  supposed  by  Sir  J.  Lubbock  to  be 
evidence  that  the  Damood  Islanders  are  atheists. 

Captain  Wilson  was  unfavourably  circumstanced  for 
making  inquiries  into  the  religion  of  the  Pellew  Islanders; 
but  no  one,  I  think,  who  reads  the  interesting  pages 
(216-220)  which  he  has  devoted  to  the  subject  in  his 

Appendix:  Note  XXVIII.  525 

*  Account  of  the  Pellew  Islands,'  will  fail  to  find  Sir  J. 
Lubbock's  view  of  his  evidence  inaccurate. 

Mr  ^Vallace  was  six  weeks  at  Wanumbai,  and  all  that 
he  tells  us  of  his  residence  there  (see  the  '  Malay- 
Archipelago,'  vol.  ii.  ch.  xxxi.)  is  confirmatory  of  his 
own  statement,  that  "  he  could  not  get  much  real  know- 
ledge of  the  customs  of  its  people."  He  was  himself, 
however,  regarded  as  a  sorcerer,  who  would  make  his 
dead  birds  and  beasts  live  again  when  he  returned  to 
England,  and  who  had  caused  the  unusual  spell  of  good 
weather  which  coincided  with  his  visit. 

The  following  works  throw  much  light  on  the  char- 
acter of  Polynesian  beliefs :  Sir  George  Grey's  '  Poly- 
nesian Mythology'  (1855),  Rev.  R.  Taylor's  'Telkaa 
Mani'  (1855),  Waitz,  vol.  v.,  Fornander's  'Account  of  the 
Polynesian  Race,'  vol.  i.,  and  the  Rev.  Mr  Gill's  '  Myths 
and  Songs  from  the  South  Pacific  Islands'  (1876). 
They  show  that  savages  who  have  been  supposed  to 
have  no  religious  conceptions  have  had  really  a  rich 
mythology,  resting  on  metaphysical  ideas  about  the 
source  and  development  and  order  of  existences,  such  as 
a  priori  theorists  and  rash  generalisers  would  have  assur- 
edly declared  could  never  have  entered  a  savage  mind. 

The  most  widely  diffused  Polynesian  term  for  God  is 
atiia.  According  to  Mr  Gill,  it  signifies  kernel,  pith,  or 
life,  God  being  conceived  of  as  the  core  of  the  world  and 
the  life  of  humanity  ;  according  to  Mr  Taylor,  beyond,  as 
a  ina?i's  shadow — Jmice  a  spirit,  God,  or  anything  beyond 
our  comprehensio7i.  Max  Miiller  (*  Hibbert  Lectures,'  pp. 
89,  90)  expresses  himself  very  decidedly  in  favour  of  the 
view  of  Mr  Gill. 

From  a  "  Report  on  Australian  Languages  and  Tradi- 
tions "  in  the  'Journal  of  the  Anthropological  Institute, 

526  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

Feb.  1878,  I  make  the  following  extracts.  The  Rev.  C. 
C.  Greenway,  speaking  of  the  Kamiloroi,  says  :  "Baiami, 
Baiame,  or  Bhiahmee,  is  regarded  as  the  maker  of  all 
things.  The  names  signify  'maker'  or  'cutter  out,' 
from  the  verb  bhai^  baialli,  baia.  He  is  regarded  as  the 
rewarder  or  punisher  of  men,  according  to  their  conduct. 
He  sees  all,  and  knows  all,  if  not  directly,  through  the 
subordinate  deity  of  Turramulan,  who  presides  at  the 
Bora.  Bhaiami  is  said  to  have  been  once  on  the  earth. 
Turramulan  is  meditator  in  all  the  operations  of  Bhaiami 
upon  man,  and  in  all  man's  transactions  with  Bhami. 
'Turramulan'  means  'leg  on  one  side  only,'  one- 
legged.  Turramulan  has  a  wife  called  Muni  Burribian 
— that  is,  egg  or  life,  and  milk  or  nourishing — who  has 
charge  of  the  instruction  and  supervision  of  women. 
For  women  may  not  see  or  hear  Turramulan  on  pain  of 
death.  The  'tohi'  (smoke,  spirit,  heart,  central  life) — 
that  which  speaks,  thinks,  determines  within  man — does 
not  die  with  the  body,  but  ascends  to  Bhaiami,  or  trans- 
migrates into  some  other  form.  It  may  be  a  ivandah 
{tuundd)  or  spirit  wandering  about  the  earth.  The 
'  bunna,'  flesh  or  material  part,  perishes  ;  the  *  wundah ' 
may  become  a  white  man.  The  transmigration  of  the 
'tohi'  is  generally  to  a  superior  condition;  but  those 
who  are  very  wicked  go  to  a  more  degraded  and  miser- 
able condition."  Mr  Thomas  Honery,  writing  of  the 
Wailwun  people,  reports :  "  Bai-ame  made  all  things. 
He  first  made  man  at  the  Murula  (a  mountain  between 
the  Narran  and  the  Barwon).  Bai-ame  once  lived 
among  men.  There  is,  in  the  stony  ridges  between  the 
Barwon  and  the  Narran,  a  hole  in  a  rock,  in  the  shape 
of  a  man,  two  or  three  times  as  large  as  an  ordinary 
man,  where  Bai-ame  used  to  go  to  rest  himself     He 

Appendix :  Note  XX  VI  11.  5  27 

had  a  large  tribe  around  him  there,  whom  he  fed  at  a 
place  called  '  Midiil.'  Suddenly  he  vanished  from  them 
and  went  up  to  heaven.  Still,  though  unseen,  he  pro- 
vides them  with  food,  making  the  grass  to  grow.  They 
believe  that  he  will  come  back  to  them  at  some  future 
time."  Of  the  aborigines  on  the  Page  and  the  Isis,  we 
are  told  that  they  believe  that  "the  deity  who  comes 
down  at  their  'Bora'  is  very  good  and  very  powerful. 
He  is  very  ancient,  but  never  gets  older.  He  saves 
them  by  his  strength.  He  can  pull  trees  up  by  the 
roots  and  remove  mountains.  If  anything  attacks  them 
he  tears  it  to  pieces."  In  the  language  of  Illawarre, 
"  Mirrirui "  is  the  word  for  God.  "  The  people  say  that 
'  Mirrirui '  made  all  things.  Their  old  men  have  told 
them  that  there  is,  beyond  death,  a  large  tree,  on  which 
Mirrirui  stands  to  receive  them  when  they  die.  The  good 
he  takes  up  to  the  sky,  the  bad  he  sends  to  another 
place  to  be  punished." 

In  the  same  number  of  the  above-mentioned  journal, 
Mr  C.  H.  E.  Carmichael  draws  attention  to  the  account 
given  by  Monsignor  Salvado  of  the  Benedictine  Mission 
in  New  Nursia,  in  Western  Australia.  It  was  long  be- 
fore the  Benedictines  ascertained  that  the  natives  had 
any  religious  beliefs,  as  regarding  these  beliefs  they 
were  "  singularly  and  obstinately  reticent."  Ultimately, 
according  to  Monsignor  Salvado,  it  was  found  that 
"they  believe  in  an  Omnipotent  Being,  creator  of 
heaven  and  earth,  whom  they  call  Motogon,  and  whom 
they  imagined  as  a  very  tall,  powerful,  and  wise  man  of 
their  own  country  and  complexion.  His  mode  of  crea- 
tion was  by  breathing :  e.g..,  to  create  the  earth,  he  said, 
'Earth,  come  forth,' — and  he  breathed,  and  the  earth 
was  created.     So  with  the  sun,  the  trees,  the  kangaroo, 

528  Anti-Theistic  Theories. 

Szc.  Motogon,  the  author  of  good,  is  confronted  with 
Cienga,  the  author  of  evil.  This  latter  being  is  un- 
chainer  of  the  whirlwind  and  the  storm,  and  the  invis- 
ible author  of  the  death  of  their  children;  w^herefore 
the  natives  fear  him  exceedingly.  What  is  remarkable, 
however,  is,  that  although  the  natives  believe  themselves 
to  be  afflicted  by  Cienga,  they  do  nothing  to  propitiate 
him.  When  a  sudden  thunderstorm  comes  upon  them, 
they  raise  hideous  cries,  strike  the  earth  with  their  feet, 
imprecate  death  and  misfortune  upon  Cienga,  whom 
they  think  the  author  of  it,  and  then  take  refuge  under 
the  nearest  trees.  The  general  belief  is,  that  Cienga 
prowls  about  at  night  among  the  trees ;  and  for  this 
reason  the  natives  can  scarcely  be  got  to  stir  from  their 
fire  after  sunset.  Only  mothers  who  have  lately  lost  a 
child  will  brave  these  dangers  to  go  in  quest  of  its  soul, 
and  if  they  hear  the  cry  of  a  bird  in  the  bush,  will  spend 
hours  there  calling  upon  it  and  begging  it  to  come  to 
them.     So  strong  is  the  Australian  mother's  love." 

Note  XXIX.,  page  274. 
Alleged  Atheism  of  African  Tribes. 

The  second  volume  of  Waltz's  'Anthropology'  gives  by 
far  the  best  general  view  of  African  religions.  I  should 
have  attempted  to  summarise  his  statements,  had  this 
not  been  already  and  recently  done  by  Professor  Max 
Miiller  in  his  Hibbert  Lectures.  The  facts  collected 
by  Waitz  show  not  only  that  all  the  African  peoples 
regarding  which  we  possess  any  considerable  amount 

Appendix:  Note  XXIX.  529 

of  information  have  religious  conceptions,  but  that  the 
belief  in  a  Supreme  Being  is  very  widely  spread  among 

The  travels  of  Baker,  Barth,  Cameron,  Grant,  Speke, 
and  Stanley  have  not  contributed  greatly  to  our  know- 
ledge of  the  religions  of  the  peoples  they  visited.  Their 
not  seeing  in  certain  cases  traces  of  religion,  may  per- 
haps be  some  slight  evidence  that  what  is  called  fetich- 
ism  is  not  prevalent  in  districts  which  they  traversed. 

Sir  Samuel  Baker  says  of  the  Dinkas,  Shilluks,  Nuehrs, 
and  other  White  Nile  tribes,  that  "  they  are  without  a 
belief  in  a  Supreme  Being,  neither  have  they  any  form 
of  worship  or  idolatry,  nor  is  the  darkness  of  their 
minds  enlightened  by  even  a  ray  of  superstition."  But 
as  Mr  Tylor  ('Primitive  Culture,'  vol.  i.  pp.  423,  424)  has 
pointed  out,  the  religions  of  these  very  tribes  have  been 
described  by  Kaufmann,  Brun-Rollet,  Lejean,  and  other 
travellers.  All  the  evidence  which  Sir  Samuel  produces 
for  the  atheism  of  the  Latukas  is  a  conversation  with 
the  chief  Commoro  regarding  the  future  life  and  the 
resurrection.  —  See  'Albert  N'Yanza,'  vol.  i.  pp.  246- 
250.  The  impression  which  the  report  of  the  conver- 
sation leaves  on  my  mind  is,  that  Commoro  was  not 
frankly  stating  his  own  views,  but  trying  to  ascertain 
those  of  his  interrogator.  Even  if  this  were  not  the  case, 
however,  his  disbelief  of  a  future  life  was  obviously  a 
conclusion  arrived  at  through  considerable  reflection. 
When  Sir  Samuel  made  a  mistaken  application  of  St 
Paul's  metaphor  of  the  grain  of  wheat,  Commoro  detected 
the  fallacy  at  once.  Sir  Samuel  was,  in  consequence, 
obliged  to  "give  up  the  religious  argument  as  a  failure;" 
but  instead  of  inferring  that  here  was  a  Latuka  Hume 
or  Bradlaugh,  whose  very  scepticism  plainly  implied 
2  L 

530  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

religious  thought,  he  concluded  that  "in  this  wild,  naked 
savage"  ("one  of  the  most  clever  and  common -sense 
savages  that  I  had  seen  in  these  countries,"  says  he 
elsewhere),  "  there  was  not  even  a  superstition  upon 
which  to  found  a  rehgious  feeling." 

Probably  the  best  work  on  the  Hottentots,  Bushmen, 
and  Kaffirs  is  G.  Fritsch's  '  Eingeborenen  Siid-Afrikas,' 
1872.  Canon  Callaway's  account  of  the  religion  of  the 
Kaffirs  is  well  known;  also  Casalis'  work  on  the  Bas- 
sutos.  The  sketches  of  the  religion  of  the  Hottentots 
by  Prichard  in  his  '  Natural  History  of  Man  '  and  '  Re- 
searches'  are  very  much  superior  to  most  of  the  later 
accounts.  The  celebrated  missionary  Robert  Moffat 
affirms  that  the  Bechuanas,  Kaffirs,  &c.,  have  no  reli- 
gion j  yet  in  chapters  xv.  and  xvi.  of  his  '  Missionary 
I^abours  and  Scenes  in  South  Africa '  he  supplies  a  con- 
siderable amount  of  evidence  to  the  contrary. 

Note  XXX.,  page  275. 

Alleged  Atheism  of  Esquimaux. 

Probably  the  best  account  of  the  religion  of  the 
Esquimaux  will  be  found  in  the  introduction  to  Dr  H. 
Rink's  'Tales  and  Traditions  of  the  Eskimo,' — see  pp. 
35-64.  According  to  it,  few  traces  of  ideas  as  to  the 
origin  and  early  history  of  the  world  and  the  supreme 
powers  are  discoverable  among  them.  They  believe, 
however,  that  the  whole  visible  world  is  ruled  by  powers 
or  "  owners,"  each  of  which  is  an  iniia — a  person  or  soul. 

Appendix :  Note  XXXI.  5  3 1 

They  divide  it  into  an  upper  and  under  world,  and  sup- 
pose the  latter  to  be  the  best,  because  it  is  warm  and 
rich  in  food.  Its  inhabitants  are  called  the  arsissut — 
i.e.^  those  who  live  in  abundance.  Souls  which  go  to 
the  upper  world  are  imagined  to  suffer  from  cold  and 
hunger.  They  are  called  the  assartut — i.e.^  ball-players  ; 
and  the  aurora  borealis  is  ascribed  to  their  being  engaged 
in  their  favourite  occupation.  The  supreme  ruler  dwells 
with  the  happy  deceased  in  the  under  world,  and  makes 
the  subordinate  rulers  helping  spirits,  or  tornat,  to  the 
angakut.  A  secondary  deity,  represented  as  a  female, 
is  credited  with  sending  forth  all  animals  needed  for  food. 
Witchcraft  is  distinguished  from  the  power  of  the  anga- 
kut^ and,  being  deemed  selfish  and  evil,  is  punished. 
The  Esquimaux  have  prayers,  invocations,  spells,  am- 
ulets, and  a  priesthood.  Religious  belief  is  the  chief 
connecting-Hnk  between  their  scattered  tribes. 

Note  XXXI.,  page  279. 

Sir  J.  Lubbock's  Miscellaneous  Instances  of 
Atheistical  Peoples. 

Dobrizhoffer's  work  was  originally  published  in  Latin 
at  Vienna  in  1784,  but  there  is  an  English  translation  of 
it  by  Sara  Coleridge — '  An  Account  of  the  Abipones,  an 
Equestrian  People  of  Paraguay,'  3  vols.,  1822. 

That  the  Hottentots,  as  Kolben  reports,  not  only 
worshipped  the  moon,  but  believed  in  a  higher  deity,  is 
distinctly  testified  to  by  G.  Schmidt,  Ziegenbalg,  Kolb, 

532  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

and  other  missionaries.  The  Kaffirs  have  derived  some 
of  their  chief  rehgious  conceptions  from  the  Hottentots. 
Thus  the  Kaffir  Unkulunkulu  has  originated  in  the  Hot- 
tentot Heitsi-eibib,  or  moon-god — a  fact  which  renders 
very  doubtful  the  conjecture  of  Mr  Spencer  and  others, 
that  the  former  is  to  be  regarded  as  merely  a  deified  an- 
cestor. Among  the  names  by  which  the  Kaffirs  express 
their  highest  and  most  general  apprehension  of  divinity 
— Utixo  (the  inflicter  of  pain),  Umdali  (the  shaper  or 
former),  and  Umenzi  (the  creator) — the  first  has  been 
adopted  from  the  Hottentots. 

Colonel  Dalton's  account  of  the  Khasias  will  be  found 
in  pp.  54-58  of  the  work  already  mentioned,  and  Colonel 
Yule's  Note  on  the  Khasia  Hills  and  people  in  No.  152 
of  the  Asiatic  Society's  Journal  (1844).  Hooker's  account 
(vol.  ii.  pp.  273-277)  is  drawn  mainly  from  the  informa- 
tion of  Mr  Inglis,  and  quite  agrees  with  that  in  Yule's 
Note.  His  words  as  to  the  religion  of  the  Khasias  are 
certainly  curious,  but  Sir  John  Lubbock's  use  of  them  is 
much  more  so.  The  words  are, — "The  Khasias  are 
superstitious,  but  have  no  religion ;  like  the  Lepchas, 
they  believe  in  a  Supreme  Being,  and  in  deities  of  the 
grove,  cave,  and  stream." 

Note  XXXH.,  page  289. 


The  author  at  one  time  hoped  to  devote  two  lectures 
to  polytheism,  and  to  the  theories  which  have  been  pro- 
mulgated regarding  its  origin,  nature,  and  evolution,  but 

Appendix:  Note  XXX Til.  533 

he  has  found  it  necessary  to  leave  these  subjects  undis- 
cussed, at  least  for  the  present.  Had  the  limits  of  this 
work  allowed  of  their  consideration,  he  would  have 
endeavoured  to  show  that  the  view  of  the  character  and 
conditions  of  theistic  proof  given  in  the  third  lecture 
of  '  Theism '  affords  the  only  foundation  for  a  true  and 
comprehensive  theory  of  the  natural  development  of  re- 
ligion. In  the  last  volume  of  his  '  Philosophy  of  History ' 
he  will  have  an  opportunity  of  examining  whether  the 
hypotheses  as  to  henotheism,  animism,  fetichism,  spirit- 
ism, the  succession  of  the  simpler  phases  of  religion,  &c., 
as  held  by  Max  Miiller,  Mr  Spencer,  Mr  Tylor,  Sir 
John  Lubbock,  and  others,  are  psychologically  well 
founded  and  historically  justified  or  not. 

Note  XXXHI.,  page  z^l- 

Mr  Sully's  'Pessimism'  (1877)  is  the  ablest  work — 
whether  regarded  as  a  history  or  a  criticism — which  has 
yet  been  written  on  the  subject  of  which  it  treats.  It  is 
especially  rich  in  excellent  psychological  observations 
and  suggestions.  In  the  lecture  I  have  felt  constrained 
strongly  to  express  dissent  from  Mr  Sully  on  one  im- 
portant point,  but  I  cordially  rejoice  that  there  is  in  our 
language  such  a  work  to  which  the  student  of  pessimism 
can  be  referred. 

As  to  the  history  of  pessimism,  besides  Mr  Sully's  first 
eight  chapters,  Huber's  '  Pessimismus'  and  Gass's  '  Opti- 
mismus  und  Pessimismus '  may  be  consulted. 

534  Anti-TJieistic  TJieories. 

On  Buddhism  there  are  admirable  works  by  Burnouf, 
Saint  Hilaire,  Stanislas  Julien,  Feer,  Senart,  Koppen, 
Wassilj ew,  Schiefner,  Spence  Hardy,  Rhys  Davids, 

The  collected  edition  of  Schopenhauer's  works  by 
Frauenstadt  is  in  seven  volumes.  Some  translations 
from  them  have  appeared  in  the  '  Journal  of  Speculative 
Philosophy,'  edited  by  W.  T.  Harris.  For  biographi- 
cal information  respecting  their  author  see  Gwinner's 
'Arthur  Schopenhauer,  aus  personlichen  Umgange  dar- 
gestellt,'  Frauenstadt  and  Lindner's  'Arthur  Schopen- 
hauer, von  ihm,  iiber  ihn,'  and  Miss  Zimmern's  'Arthur 
Schopenhauer.'  The  German  books,  pamphlets,  lec- 
tures, articles,  &c.,  on  Schopenhauer  and  his  system  are 
very  numerous.  Among  English  criticisms  of  his  philo- 
sophy one  of  the  best  is  Professor  Adamson's  in  '  Mind,' 
No.  4.  There  is  an  excellent  French  work  on  'La 
Philosophic  de  Schopenhauer,'  by  M.  Ribot. 

Von  Hartmann  has  given  us  a  brief  autobiography 
which  will  be  found  in  his  '  Gesammelte  Studien.'  His 
'  Philosophic  des  Unbewussten '  is  stereotyped  in  its 
seventh  edition.  The  ablest  examinations  of  it  known 
to  me  are  O.  Schmidt's  '  Naturwissenschaftliche  Grund- 
lagen  der  Philosophic  des  Unbewussten,'  Renouvier's 
articles  in  the  '  Critique  Philosophique,'  Annee  iii.,  and 
Bonatelli's  in  'La  Filosofia  delle  Scuole  Italiane,'  1875-76. 
Hartmann  published  in  1872  an  anonymous  refutation 
of  his  own  principles  and  hypotheses — '  Das  Unbewus- 
ste  vom  Standpunkt  der  Physiologic  und  Descendenz- 

Frauenstadt  is,  among  pessimists,  the  writer  most  dis- 
tinguished by  good  sense.  His  '  Briefe  uber  die  Schop- 
enhauerische  Philosophic'  (1S54)  and  his  'Neue  Briefe' 

Appejidix:  Note  XXXIIL  535 

(1876)  are  valuable  as  expositions  and  apologies;  while 
works  like  his  '  Das  Sittliche  Leben/  '  Blicke  in  die 
Intel,  phy.  und  mor.  Welt/  &c.,  have  very  considerable 
merits  which  are  independent  of  their  relation  to  a 
system.  In  the  'Revue  Philosophique'  for  May  and 
July,  1876,  there  is  an  essay  by  Hartmann  on  "Schopen- 
hauer et  Frauenstadt." 

Bahnsen,  to  whom  reference  is  made  in  the  lecture, 
has  stated  his  views  in  '  Zur  Philosophic  der  Geschichte ' 
(1872),  *Das  Tragische  als  Weltgesetz'  (1877),  and 
other  works.  See  regarding  him  Hartmann's  "Un 
nouveau  disciple  de  Schopenhauer"  in  the  'Rev.  Phil.,' 
Nos.  I  and  2  for  1876. 

Mainlander  in  his  'Philosophic  der  Erlosung'  (1876) 
rivals  even  Bahnsen  as  an  apostle  of  despair.  Says 
Wundt :  "A  gloomy  melancholy  pervades  this  work, 
which  shows  clearly  how  short  a  step  it  is  from  Schop- 
enhauer's Will  manifestations  to  a  system  of  mystical 
emanation.  God,  it  is  here  set  forth,  was  the  original 
Unity  of  the  world,  but  He  is  so  no  longer,  since  the 
world  broke  up  into  a  multiplicity  of  particular  things. 
God  willed  that  ?wugkt  should  be,  but  His  essence  pre- 
vented the  immediate  coming  to  pass  of  nothingness; 
the  world  meanwhile  behoved  to  fall  asunder  into  a 
multiplicity,  whose  separate  entities  are  all  clashing  with 
one  another  as  they  struggle  to  arrive  at  the  state  of 
nothingness.  It  is  not,  therefore,  the  Will-to-live,  as 
Schopenhauer  said,  that  maintains  the  change  of  phe- 
nomena, but  the  Will-to-die;  and  this  is  coming  ever 
nearer  to  its  fulfilment,  since  in  the  mutual  struggle  of 
all  things  the  sum-total  of  force  grows  ever  less.  In  the 
view  of  this  author,  the  highest  moral  duty  is  that  nega- 
tion of  existence  which  would  cut  short  the  unlimited 

53^  Anti-TJieistic  Theories. 

continuance  of  individual  life  in  the  future  by  the  cessa- 
tion of  all  sexual  connection." 

Taubert,  Du  Prel,  Venetianer,  Volkelt,  Noire,  Von 
Hellwald,  and  various  other  writers  in  Germany,  adhere 
by  slighter  or  stronger  ties  to  the  pessimist  philosophy. 

The  best  French  work  on  pessimism  is  Caro's  '  Pes- 
simisme  au  xix^  Siecle'  (1878). 

Pessimists  dwell,  of  course,  on  the  sad  realities  of 
suffering  and  death.  As  to  these  facts  I  may  refer  my 
readers  to  the  ingenious  considerations  by  which  Dr 
Macvicar  endeavours  to  show  that  they  are  not  to  be 
regarded  as  limitations  of  power,  wisdom,  or  goodness  in 
the  Creator.  See  his  '  Sketch  of  a  Philosophy,'  Pt.  iv. 
ch.  X.  This  remarkable  and  profound  work  has  not 
obtained  the  attention  which  it  merits. 

Note  XXXIV.,  page  341. 

Histories    of    Pantheism. 

M.  Emile  Saisset's  '  Essai  de  Philosophie  Religieuse ' 
is,  on  the  whole,  the  ablest  work  on  pantheism.  A  good 
English  translation  of  it,  under  the  title  of  '  Modern 
Pantheism,'  was  published  by  T.  and  T.  Clark  of  Edin- 
burgh, in  1863.  It  does  not  treat  of  oriental  or  classical 
pantheism.  It  consists  of  two  parts.  The  first  part 
contains  seven  historical  studies  or  treatises  with  these 
titles  :  (i)  Theism  of  Descartes ;  (2)  God  in  the  system  of 
Malebranche ;  (3)  Pantheism  of  Spinoza ;  (4)  God  in  the 
system  of  Newton;  (5)  Theism  of  Leibnitz;  (6)  Scepti- 
cism of  Kant ;  and  (7)  Pantheism  of  Hegel.    A  common 

Appendix :  Note  XXXI V.  537 

aim  connects  and  unifies  these  treatises — namely,  the  en- 
deavour to  trace  the  development  and  to  test  the  worth 
of  the  pantheistic  notion  of  Deity.  The  second  part  is 
composed  of  nine  meditations  on  the  following  topics  : 
(i)  Is  there  a  God?  (2)  Is  God  accessible  to  reason? 
(3)  Can  there  be  anything  but  God  ?  (4)  God  the  Crea- 
tor; (5)  Is  the  world  infinite?  (6)  Providence  in  the 
universe;  (7)  Providence  in  man;  (8)  The  mystery  of 
suffering;  and  (9)  Religion.  The  fifth  meditation  is  the 
most  questionable  in  its  reasoning.  M.  Saisset  contends 
that  the  infinity  of  God  implies  the  infinity  of  the  created 
universe,  but  only  a  relative  infinity  ;  or,  in  other  words, 
illimitable  extension  in  time  and  space.  His  chief  argu- 
ment for  the  conclusion  is  that  there  is  no  proportion 
between  a  finite  creation  and  an  infinite  Creator,  and 
hence  that  the  creation  must  be  relatively  infinite  in 
order  to  be  worthy  of  the  Creator.  Obviously,  however, 
if  the  argument  be  good  at  all,  it  is  good  for  more  than 
this  conclusion.  There  is  no  proportion  between  abso- 
lute and  relative  infinity.  If  a  finite  creation  cannot  be 
worthy  of  an  absolutely  infinite  Creator,  neither  can  a 
relatively  infinite  creation  be  worthy  of  Him  ;  but  crea- 
tion must  be  an  effect  completely  equal  to  and  exhaustive 
of  its  cause ;  or,  in  other  words,  pantheism,  against 
which  M.  Saisset  has  so  ably  contended,  must  be  true. 
There  is  a  criticism  of  M,  Saisset's  work  in  Dean  Han- 
sel's 'Letters,  Lectures,  and  Reviews.' 

The  'Essai  sur  le  Pantheisme'  (1841),  by  the  Abb^ 
Maret,  is  a  work  much  inferior  to  M.  Saisset's ;  but  it 
contains  a  considerable  amount  of  information,  and  its 
reasoning  is  often  judicious  and  conclusive.  It  was  very 
favourably  received  by  the  Roman  Catholic  clergy  of 
France,  one  of  its  leading  ideas  being  that  a  denial  of 

538  Aiiti-Theistic  Theories. 

the  doctrine  of  the  Roman  Cath